Arctic Winter Games cancelled over concerns of Coronavirus

Skiers with mascot
Team NWT cross-country skiers pose with Arctic Winter Games mascot Kuluk the seal. Photo: Darren Horn/Team NWT
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Coronavirus concerns have led to the cancellation of the Arctic Winter Games. The cancellation came on the recommendation of the Yukon’s acting chief medical officer of health over concerns surrounding coronavirus disease.

Dr. Catherine Elliott, the acting chief medical officer of health for the Yukon, said at a press conference on March 7th that the virus has progressed in a way experts had not predicted.

“Places are seeing community spread with no explanation of how it is happening or why. The global spread of COVID-19 has been faster and more uncertain than many of us have expected.”

The games, which celebrate northern sports and culture, were scheduled for March 15th to 21st and would have seen up to 2,000 visitors come to Whitehorse from across Canada and the circumpolar north.

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Yukon Premier Sandy Silver added that there are no current cases of the COVID-19 virus in Yukon and the risk of infection is considered low but the organizing committee decided that cancelling the games is the most responsible precautionary measure.

“The international situation changed, the first opportunity we had to sit down and have a conversation with our caucus and with the chief medical officer, it was made known at that point that we really need to make a decision very quickly.”

This marks the first time since the games were first held in Yellowknife in 1970 that they will not be held as scheduled.

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