The 2022 Arctic Winter Games will be hosted by the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, in northern Alberta (Canadian Prairies).
The announcement was made Wednesday in a press release.
“Nearly 2000 athletes, coaches and cultural delegates from around the circumpolar world will gather in March of 2022 to share the energy of this vibrant northern community,” said John Flynn, Arctic Winter Games International Committee president, in the statement.
Wood Buffalo was selected over Grande Prairie, Alta., the only other community in the running to host the games.
The region hosted the games in 2004. This time around it pitched itself as a venue that could pull off a successful games while allowing visitors to experience the diversity of its rural and Indigenous communities.
Wood Buffalo organizers said their games wouldn’t concentrate on Fort McMurray, but would be shared with rural communities in the region. Fort MacKay could host speed skating and there are newly constructed sporting facilities in Anzac and Conklin.
“It was a difficult choice,” stated John Rodda, chair of the site selection committee. “Both communities have the facilities, spirit and motivation. The … committee was impressed with the diversity, engagement and support exhibited in both communities.”
The games are estimated to cost Fort McMurray between $5 million and $8 million to host, but could contribute upwards of $15 million to the economy.
The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo has committed $4 million for the event. The Alberta government was expected to contribute $1.8 million to the winning community.
The Arctic Winter Games happen every second year, bringing together athletes and cultural performers from Alaska, Greenland, Yamal (Russia), the Sapmi of Scandanavia, Alberta, Yukon, Nunavut, N.W.T. and Nunavik. Sporting events include hockey, cross-country skiing, speed skating, and Dene games.
Yukon will host the games in Whitehorse in 2020.
Related stories from around the North:
Norway: Swedish musher wins Finnmarksløpet, The Independent Barents Observer
Russia: Russia lashes out at Norwegian NGO over “russophobic” World Cup handbook, The Independent Barents Observer
United States: At Native Youth Olympics in Alaska, free the mind and the body will follow, Alaska Dispatch News