IIHF headed to North Pole
by IIHF/UN|07 DEC 2018
The Barneo Ice Camp close to the North Pole will be the venue of the ‘Last ice hockey game at the North Pole’.
photo: Valeri Melnikov / RIA Novosti
The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) has joined UN Environment and other partners in organizing the ‘Last ice hockey game at the North Pole’.  

The “Last Game” – a symbolic ice hockey game with the objective to draw global attention to climate change and the rapidly disappearing ice in the Polar regions – will involve athletes from different disciplines and countries, Arctic indigenous peoples and youth. The hockey game is set to be played 24-25 April 2019 and will take place on an ice rink at the North Pole. 

Beyond its institutional backing, the IIHF will provide support on the ground - or rather, on the ice - with its President, René Fasel, volunteering to be the referee of this unique undertaking. 

“The IIHF is honoured to be involved with this initiative to combat one of the most serious challenges facing the modern world,” said Fasel. “Climate change will impact everyone in the coming years, we have to take a more responsible role as stewards of our environment and look for new and innovative ways to raise awareness on this pressing issue.” 

Fasel will oversee the game that will confront two teams including celebrities from different sports disciplines. The list of confirmed players so far includes former ice hockey stars Jari Kurri (Finland) and Mike Richter (United States), along with four-time Olympic gold medalist speed skater Johann Olaf Koss (Norway).
IIHF President René Fasel as referee during a legends’ game.
photo: Mika Kylmaniemi / HHOF-IIHF Images
Also on the ice will be former Soviet and NHL ice hockey star Vyacheslav (‘Slava’) Fetisov, who was the main driver behind this initiative in his role as UN Environment Patron for Polar Regions.

“It is great that the IIHF, as a part of the Olympic family, will be with us when we play ice hockey in the Arctic to use sport as a bridge between countries for cooperation on climate change, a topic that is crucial for our planet,” said Fetisov.

In 2015, Fetisov was the first person in Russia to support the campaign to create the marine protected area in the Ross Sea, Antarctica. Throughout the years he has lent his support to several environmental initiatives in the region, including Lewis Pugh’s (UN Environment Patron of the Oceans) cleanup on Lake Baikal, Russia and the Antarctica 2020 campaign for the creation of more arctic marine protected areas. In September 2017, he orchestrated the biggest beach cleanup in the Russian Arctic.
Russian hockey legend Vyacheslav Fetisov, a driving force behind the game in his role as UN Environment Patron for Polar Regions, will play in the ‘Last ice hockey game at the North Pole’.
photo: Jon Alpert
“I commend UN Environment and its patron Vyacheslav Fetisov for this admirable effort to draw attention to climate change. Sport is a great communicator across all people, and I hope that we can use ice hockey as a positive message for peace and respect for the environment,” said Fasel.

The event aims at garner global attention and support for the rapidly disappearing ice in the Polar regions. The Arctic is one of Earth’s most fragile ecosystems, disproportionally affected by climate change and warming at twice the average rate of the rest of the planet. It is aimed to boost climate action by individuals and organizations around the world, through the powerful voice of sports.

The Last Game will be presented by Mr. Fetisov, together with partners, at the 24th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 24) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which takes place in Katowice, Poland, from 3 to 14 December 2018. The initiative will be showcased through a number of events, including on 11 December at the ‘Sports for Climate Action’ panel; on 12 December at a dedicated Climate Action Hub event ‘On Thin Ice: the Last Game at the North Pole’; and on 13 December at a side event organized by Estonia and the Climate Leadership Coalition entitled ‘Sports as a way of engaging and empowering citizens to climate actions’.

The last ice hockey game on the North Pole’ aims at bringing together sports and environment as agents of peace and has received the backing, among others, of UN Secretary General António Guterres, Pope Francis and Prince Albert II of Monaco.
On thin ice: The "Last Game" at the North Pole
UN Environment Patron of Polar Regions Slava Fetisov met with UN Secretary General António Guterres to discuss plans to hold a hockey match at the North Pole in April of 2019 to stress the importance of Climate Action.
07 DEC 2018