Iqaluit steps up to save hockey at 2016 Games

Iqaluit steps up to save hockey at 2016 Games
This arena in Iqaluit will host women’s and bantam hockey during the 2016 Arctic Winter Games in Greenland.Photo: City of Iqaluit.

Women’s and bantam hockey have a home, securing their spots in the lineup for events in the 2016 Arctic Winter Games in Nuuk, Greenland, but six key sports remain excluded.

The city of Iqaluit has announced it will host the two hockey events at its Arctic Winter Games arena, as Nuuk lacks the necessary ice surface facilities.

“We are pleased to work with the City of Iqaluit…Our two communities have a lot in common and we see this as an opportunity to strengthen our relationship and exchange best practices and knowledge,” Nuuk deputy Mayor Andreas Uldumm said in a recent press release.

“We have a unique history of working together. In 2002, Nuuk and Iqaluit co-hosted the Arctic Winter Games. We will contribute to the success of Greenland’s Games in 2016 and look forward to a continued partnership as we prepare our bid for the 2020 Arctic Winter Games,” Iqaluit’s mayor John Graham added.

This inclusion of bantam hockey gives hope for midget hockey, which was originally going to be excluded from the 2016 games along with dog mushing, curling, gymnastics, speed skating and figure skating, due to lack of facilities in Greenland. These events have all traditionally been included in the games.

Municipal and Community Affairs Minister Robert McLeod with the government of the Northwest Territories has been working with the Arctic Winter Games International Committee to explore ways to ensure the events happen at a separate multi-sport competition, even if it won’t be at the official games.

He told The Journal last week that he’s “fairly confident” there will be a positive outcome for the events.

“Our working group is still working on finding an alternative location. Our plan right from the beginning is to get a location or venue for all the athletes that would be excluded,” McLeod said.

“We’re pleased things have been finalized for bantam and women’s hockey, but we have been focused on the six excluded events and are working away at that…The affected sport organizations have been very patient and they should have an answer soon.”

The committee’s working group is expected to report back by next month.

The games have been forced to eliminate events before, such as alpine skiing in 2008 when the competition took place in Yellowknife where there is no ski hill.

Additionally, when Greenland hosted in 2002, many arena events took place in Iqaluit and athletes were flown back and forth.

In an earlier interview, McLeod mentioned Iqaluit may not be a viable option for the eliminated sports this time around as they have capacity concerns and many infrastructure projects on the go.

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