The Arctic Winter Games International Committee has laid out its plans for the hosting rotation for the next few years and it includes a brand new site.
Yamal will host the 2026 Games, the first time the event will head to Russia. The committee made the announcement on Friday morning as part of a list which outlined how the hosting schedule will run up to 2032.
In making the announcement, John Rodda, the committee’s vice-president, stated in a news release that the committee is enthusiastic about going to Russia, which will provide “…new and exciting sport and cultural opportunities for the Arctic Winter Games participants.”
The 2022 Games are still scheduled for Wood Buffalo, Alta., while the 2024 Games will happen in Alaska, the site of which has not yet been determined. After 2026 in Russia, the Games will return to the NWT with 2030 seeing Nunavut and Greenland putting forth a joint bid. Yukon, which was set to host this year’s Games before Covid-19 killed those plans, follows that in 2032.
Doug Rentmeister, Team NT’s chef de mission for the Arctic Winter Games, said he wasn’t surprised at all to see Yamal included in the rotation.
“This is something that’s been in the works for quite some time,” he said. “The international committee did a site visit before making the decision and from what I’ve been told, they were surprised with the amount of facilities they have over there.”
Something else Rentmeister pointed out was that several communities in the Yamal-Nenets region are larger than communities that have hosted in North America.
“It wasn’t too far-fetched to believe that it was only a matter of time before we competed over there,” he said.
Having some confirmation on where the Games will be held over the next few years also saves time in terms of preparation, he added.
“Costs are the big thing for us so at least we’ll know how best to prepare for travel,” he said.
The release also stated the committee’s commitment to potential host sites within its jurisdictions as well as come up with new standards that would allow for flexibility to accommodate small host communities .
Doris Landry, the committee’s operations co-ordinator, said that the committee will be open to hearing hosting options from prospective host communities and will assess each of the options on their own merit within the parameters of the AWG Bid Manual and minimum standards required as set out in the AWG Staging Manual and AWG Policy Manual.