After positive COVID-19 tests and forfeits started piling up, the IIHF decided to cancel the 2022 Edmonton/Red Deer World Junior Championship on Wednesday.
According to the IIHF, cutting the tournament short after three days of competition was “due to the ongoing spread of COVID-19 and the Omicron variant.” Three games have had to be forfeited so far, and to the IIHF “the sportive integrity of the event has been compromised.”
“We owed it to the participating teams to do our best to create the conditions necessary for this event to work,” said IIHF President Luc 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.”
COVID forces 2022 World Junior Championship to be canceled
This news comes days after the IIHF decided to cancel the women’s under-18 world championship for the second year in a row. (USA Hockey recently asked the IIHF to reschedule that tournament.)
On Tuesday, the U.S. forfeited its game vs. Switzerland after two U.S. players initially tested positive for COVID-19.
Earlier on Wednesday, Czechia forfeited its game vs. Finland, and Russia was set to do the same against Slovakia. Reporters such as Daily Faceoff’s Chris Peters indicate that officials were getting quite frustrated with the process.
That's one of the examples that has teams throwing up their hands. They think they've got one thing figured out and then another potential problem pops up and there's no real contingency for it.
— Chris Peters (@chrismpeters) December 29, 2021
Now, obviously, the rest of the World Junior Championship has been canceled. It’s absolutely fair to wonder if the IIHF should’ve canceled the tournament before it even began.
Ultimately, teams played nine games (not counting forfeits) before the decision to cancel was made. Canada’s Connor Bedard authored what was likely the most (positively) memorable moment when the 16-year-old became the youngest player in world juniors history to score four goals.
My heart goes out to the '02 age group. They've missed both the U18 and U20 World Championships now. For many, those events are the highlight of their career. They'll never get back those moments they could have had. A sad moment in a time where we have lots of them.
— Jokke Nevalainen (@JokkeNevalainen) December 29, 2021
Last year, the U.S. upset Canada to win gold at the 2021 World Junior Championship.
A week ago, the NHL announced that players will not participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics.