The IIHF has officially announced the 2022 World Juniors will be cancelled due to COVID-19. Multiple players and officials have now tested positive which caused three forfeits in the first four days of the tournament. Players will now return home to their respective teams with no winner being declared.
COVID-19 Shuts Down Tournament
Just like other tournaments around the world, it was deemed unsafe to continue with the World Juniors. The potential for spread amongst players, staff and officials was too grand and the tournament was shut down. One major issue that arose was there were positive cases in both cities. Team USA and Team Czechia both had positive COVID cases despite playing in two separate cities and never playing each other.
Statement from the 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.”
What Happens Next?
In recent interviews, IIHF president Luc Tardif did say that just because of a tournament is cancelled, doesn’t mean it can’t be rescheduled. He said this when asked about the recent cancellation of the U-18 Women’s World Championship. The Canadian Hockey League’s Memorial Cup is scheduled to end on June 13 th , 2022 which means the tournament could start in late June. This would ensure that the World Juniors does not clash with the men’s U-18 tournament while also finishing before the NHL Draft set for July 7th , 2022. Regardless, as of right now, the tournament is cancelled and we will wait to hear if a rescheduled date appears in the near future.