World Eskimo Indian Olympics start next week in Fairbanks
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The World Eskimo Indian Olympics are taking place one week earlier than usual this year at the Big Dipper Ice Arena in Fairbanks from July 13-16.
“It’s a great example of the strength of our indigenous people both the physical strength of the games, but also the perseverance of our communities to hold on to these cultural traditions,” said Juneau athlete and coach Kyle Worl.
This will be the 61st annual WEIO games. Some participants are all about competition and trying to beat a personal best, and for others it is all about seeing old friends.
“We always refer to it as a big family reunion because so many people — some who have been coming since 1961, others of us who have you know grown up with WEIO — all kind of come back from all around the state,″ WEIO Board Chair Gina Kalloch said.
With just seven days left until the opening ceremonies, communities throughout Alaska and Canada are preparing for the games. According to Worl, Juneau is sending their largest team ever with about 18 athletes going to compete and help keep the traditions of Native Alaskans alive.
The first-ever World Eskimo Indian Olympics was held in 1961, and 61 years later they are still going strong with a schedule of events that is pages long. Kalloch suggests that first time spectators attend the day session from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. when it is free to the public.
WEIO is following the local COVID-19 guidelines, which currently don’t require masks or vaccination for indoor events, However, Kalloch said they strongly suggest everyone be as safe as possible when in close quarters with other competitors or spectators.
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