By: by Adam Steiss, IIHF
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 cancelled to ensure the health and safety of all participants.
The decision comes following a positive case on a player on the Russian national team, which would have necessitated a forfeit of the Russia-Slovakia game scheduled for 29 December. The game is the third to be cancelled due to positive cases, following Switzerland-USA and Finland-Czechia.
In addition to ensuring the health and safety of participants, the Council has determined that with another forfeiture – the third forfeited game in two days – the sportive integrity of the event has been compromised, and the event must be cancelled.
“Together with the teams, we came into this event with full confidence in the COVID-19 protocols put in place by the IIHF, the LOC, Alberta Health, Alberta Health Services and the Public Health Agency of Canada,” said IIHF President Luc Tardif. “The ongoing spread of COVID-19 and the Omicron variant forced us to readjust our protocols almost immediately upon arrival to attempt to stay ahead of any potential spread. This included daily testing and the team quarantine requirement when positive cases were confirmed.”
“We owed it to the participating teams to do our best to create the conditions necessary for this event to work,” said Tardif. “Unfortunately, this was not enough. We now have to take some time and focus on getting all players and team staff back home safely.”
Hockey Canada President Scott Smith and CEO Tom Renney shared the following statement:
“Hockey Canada has worked tirelessly since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure it would be equipped to host world-class, international events in a safe and healthy environment. Despite our best efforts, and continually adapting and strengthening protocols, we have unfortunately fallen short of our goal of completing the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship and handing out medals on Jan. 5 due to the challenges of the current COVID-19 landscape.”
“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. 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.”