AWG societies meet in Nuuk to plan 2002 games
IQALUIT — The 2002 Arctic Winter Games may be more than two years away, but for the committee charged with putting on the show, the starting pistol has already been fired.
Iqaluit’s host society has already begun planning and preparation work for the games it will co-host with Nuuk, Greenland in 2002.
Iqaluit’s host society must jump a number of hurdles to successfully host an international sporting event in a community of only 5,000.
The society’s 13 directors are responsible for organizing and financing almost every aspect of the Iqaluit portion of the games.
It must raise about $2.5 million to pay for the games and, find about 800 Iqaluit residents willing to volunteer their time towards an event many have never witnessed first-hand.
Add into the mix the necessary telecommunications, opening and closing ceremonies, travel arrangements and food and accommodation for the 800 athletes, coaches and trainers from Russia, Greenland, Alaska and the Canadian North who are expected to descend on Iqaluit, and Iqaluit’s host society has a big job on its hands.
But the games’ general manager, Gilbert Normandeau, says there’s no reason Iqaluit can’t pull off the job, and he says the games’ governing body, the International Arctic Winter Games Committee, believes the town’s planning is ahead of schedule.
“The international committee has a great deal of experience. They’ve reviewed what we have available, they’ve reviewed our reports and expressed to us that we’re on the right track,” Normandeau said. “It’s not like we’re living in a delusion.”
Last week members of Iqaluit’s host society, along with two Nunavut government ministers, flew to Nuuk, Greenland to tackle some of the logistics of co-hosting the games.
During the meetings, delegates came up with a preliminary list of sporting events each town will host.
In the coming weeks, the society plans to name individuals to head up each of 28 planning committees.
Once those people are in place, the drive for volunteers will get underway, said Aron Slipacoff, a spokesperson for the society.
The 2000 games are set to take place in Whitehorse this March. With its population of 24,000, the Whitehorse games will have approximately 3,000 volunteers at its disposal.
Iqaluit is only hosting half of the 2002 games and is hoping to enlist 800 volunteers and up to nine paid staff during the games’ busiest period. Normandeau says if Iqaluit’s population expands to 6,000 residents by 2002, 800 volunteers will be a similar number of volunteers per capita as Whitehorse.
Normandeau said finding 800 people should be possible given Iqaluit’s history of volunteering for activities such as the Toonik Tyme festival.
And he said Team Nunavut’s participation in the 2000 games should spark local interest in the games.
Normandeau said he wants to attract both sports enthusiasts and residents interested in culture and the arts to volunteer.
In fact the mandate of the Arctic Winter Games isn’t just to promote sports but to act as a cultural experience for the host community and visitors as well.
But aside from volunteers, the games need cash.
The host society is projecting a total cost of $2.57 million for the Iqaluit portion of the games. Administration costs are expected to eat up about one third of the budget. Travel costs for the athletes will be covered by Sport Nunavut.
The Nuuk portion of the games expects to get much of its funding from the home rule government. The Nuuk host society is responsible for any costs while athletes are in their community.
In contrast, Iqaluit expects to receive about $200,000 from the municipality and so far has received about $100,000 from the Nunavut government.
That means the host society must raise the bulk of its funding from corporate donations, sponsorships and in-kind donations.
Games organizers can’t guarantee corporate sponsors will receive large viewing audiences in exchange for their investment, That means they will have to convince a limited private sector to donate to an event that promotes healthy lifestyles and Arctic culture.
“If you go to large corporations and put the message forward that there are cultural benefits here, you’re more likely to strike a positive cord,” Slipacoff said.
So far, the host society has managed to attract the interest and goodwill of NorthwesTel and Xerox through Iqaluit’s Thomas and Associates.
The society hopes to further boost its budget with training dollars from the federal government.
Should the host society fail to bring in the money it needs, any debts will fall to the municipality of Iqaluit to cover.
But organizers are promoting the games as an economic boon for the town. Studies from previous games suggest for every government dollar spent on the games another four is generated.
In fact most games try to leave a “legacy” to their community by way of a infrastructure or an improved volunteer base.
Preliminary studies, by the international committee have found Iqaluit already has most of the necessary sporting facilities and accommodations. What’s still needed, Normandeau said, is a site to host cultural events during the week-long games.
The society may consider building a facility.
Preliminary break-down of sports locations
dog mushing and