Thursday, January 20, 2022

2022 World Junior Ice Hockey Championship canceled as COVID-19 cases rise among players

On Wednesday, the IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation) announced they are canceling the rest of the 2022 World Juniors Championship as COVID-19 case numbers rise. With the number of positive cases among players increasing, the IIHF felt the best and safest choice was to stop the tournament all together.

IIHF officials met on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the plan going forward and while they were looking for a way to safely continue, the final conclusion was to cancel.

The IIHF website said, “Following a recommendation by the tournament COVID-19 Medical Group and the IIHF Medical Committee, the IIHF Council has decided that, due to the ongoing spread of COVID-19 and the Omicron variant, the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship will be canceled to ensure the health and safety of all participants.”

IIHF President Luc Tardif said:

“We owed it to the participating teams to do our best to create the conditions necessary for this event to work. Unfortunately, this was not enough. We now have to take some time and focus on getting all players and team staff back home safely.”

The federation changed its safety protocols this year from the 2021 World Juniors Championship, where a bubble was in place for all involved in the event to help prevent the spread of the virus. With no bubble, the COVID-19 cases became a serious safety concern.

Games were being forfeited ahead of the cancelation due to positive tests, including the USA forfeiting its game against Switzerland. The Czech Republic forfeited its game against Finland and Russia forfeited its game against Slovakia.

The IIHF said with the forfeiture, “the sportive integrity of the event has been compromised, and the event must be canceled.”

With a change in protocols this year and players, coaches and staff staying at a hotel open to the public, many expressed their frustrations with how it was all organized. 

Hockey Canada President Scott Smith and CEO Tom Renney maintain that safety of everyone was always the main goal. 

“Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have always made the health and safety of event participants and the community at large a priority, and given the news that we have encountered positive cases within the World Juniors environment, we understand and support the decision to cancel the remainder of the event,” the two said in a joint statement. “Although we know this is the right decision, we sympathize with all participants who have earned the opportunity to represent their countries on the world stage and that will not be able to realize that dream in its entirety.”

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