Iceland cancels largest Arctic conference due to COVID-19

The venue for the 2019 Arctic Circle Assembly, Harpa, Reykjavik. (Thomas Nilsen/The Independent Barents Observer)
“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the October Assembly is postponed,” announced Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, former president of Iceland and Chairman of the Arctic Circle in a tweet on Monday.

According to, there are currently 114 infected persons in isolation and another 938 people in quarantine on Iceland. The rate has slightly increased lately.

Held every year since 2013  in the Icelandic capital, Arctic Circle Assembly is the largest annual international gathering on the Arctic, attended by more than 2,000 participants from 60 countries. The participants are a good mixture of ministers, diplomats, NGOs, researchers, business people and other stakeholders from Europe, Asia and North-America.

The 2021 Arctic Assembly is scheduled for October 14-17.

Another large conference, the Arctic Frontiers in Tromsø, is currently considering how the event will be.

Scheduled for February 1-4, the Norwegian organizers are currently asking former participants to come with input on how to develop the optimal structure and content for next winter’s conference, either by traveling to Tromsø or possible online happenings.

Related stories from around the North

Canada: Canada’s long-term neglect of Arctic must stop, says Senate report, Eye on the Arctic

Denmark: Denmark, U.S. affirm need to ‘maintain and build situational awareness’ in the Arctic, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: Finland joins other Nordic countries in virtual tourism due to pandemic, Yle News

Iceland: Nordics should aim for common approach to China’s Arctic involvement says report, Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Norway strengthens its Arctic military in new defense plan as security concerns grow in the region, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Two Chinese rigs prepare for drilling in Russian Arctic waters, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Sweden’s FM calls for more EU involvement in Arctic as country hosts EU Arctic Forum, Radio Sweden

United States: U.S. wants to keep the Arctic an area of low tensions, top official, Radio Canada International

Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer

For more news from the Barents region visit The Independent Barents Observer.

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