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HomeEntertainmentIIHF cancels World Juniors as COVID-19 circumstances rise

IIHF cancels World Juniors as COVID-19 circumstances rise

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Rogers Place enviornment sits empty after the cancellation of the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships in Edmonton, on Dec. 29.JASON FRANSON/The Canadian Press

COVID-19 felled one other sporting icon on Wednesday when the Worldwide Ice Hockey Federation abruptly shut down the World Junior Championships amid a rising variety of contaminated gamers and forfeited video games.

The event between 10 males’s nationwide under-20 groups from world wide has been held yearly since 1977. It’s beloved by Canadians as a result of it has supplied sneak previews of future superstars corresponding to Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid.

The occasion, hosted by Hockey Canada, was being staged this yr in Edmonton and Crimson Deer, Alta. It began on the day after Christmas. The finals have been to conclude on Jan. 5.

“I do know individuals world wide are upset, however I can’t think about how upset the gamers are,” Tom Renney, the chief govt of Hockey Canada, mentioned throughout a digital information convention on Wednesday night time. “We did the easiest we are able to. We got here up towards an opponent that was not on the ice and was larger than all of us.”

The IIHF mentioned the cancellation was crucial to make sure the well being and security of all contributors. It cited the continued unfold of the coronavirus and the rise of the extremely contagious new Omicron variant as causes. Hovering numbers of COVID-19 circumstances have been reported throughout Canada on Wednesday, particularly in Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia.

On the World Juniors, the USA, Russia and Czechia had already been pressured into forfeits after workforce members examined constructive. 4 video games had been cancelled previously two days.

“We knew from the start that this may be a contest not like any of the others,” mentioned Luc Tardif, the IIHF’s president. “We owed it to the taking part groups to do our greatest to create the circumstances crucial for this occasion to work. However with the forfeitures, we noticed it was inconceivable to proceed in a good means.”

“We took steps to bolster protocols and the steps we took weren’t too late, however the variant was forward of us.”

Tardif mentioned the IIHF and different organizers will undertake a feasibility examine in a month or so to see if there’s a solution to re-play these World Juniors subsequent summer time. The Dec., 2022 and 2023 occasions are scheduled to happen in Russia and Finland, respectively.

“We need to come again and ship this competitors,” Tardif mentioned. “It’s straightforward to say, however generally not really easy to do. However we’re going to be actually motivated to discover a means and are available again with a shock.”

Late final week the IIHF cancelled 4 under-18 ladies’s occasions that have been to happen in 2022, together with subsequent month’s world championship in Sweden, and two males’s under-20 tournaments. That is the second straight yr the under-18 Ladies’s World Championship has been cancelled on account of the pandemic.

Tardif mentioned the IIHF may also make makes an attempt to reschedule all of these occasions for this summer time.

“Give us time and choose us on the finish of the story,” Tardif mentioned. “I hope everybody shall be pleased.”

Issues due to COVID-19 additionally led to NHL gamers being pulled out of the 2022 Beijing Olympics final week, and to the ultimate three video games being cancelled in an exhibition sequence between the ladies’s nationwide groups from Canada and the U.S.

Earlier than the shutdown, Canada received its first two video games on the World Junior Championships. It beat Austria 11-2 on Tuesday with 4 objectives from 16-year-old Connor Bedard, making {the teenager} from North Vancouver the youngest participant in historical past to attain 4 in a sport on the event. Gretzky scored three in 1977, when he was 16.

With NHL gamers out of the Olympics for the second time in a row, the World Juniors have been producing much more pleasure than ordinary. Canada, the U.S. and Russia are at all times listed among the many pre-tournament favourites. Canada and the U.S. appeared particularly sturdy this yr.

“Our hearts exit to the gamers and employees of not simply our nation, however each nation, who’ve labored so exhausting and sacrificed a lot, to get thus far,” John Vanbiesbrouck, the overall supervisor of the U.S. nationwide workforce, wrote in a put up on Twitter. “We’re pleased with our workforce for doing all the pieces that has been requested of it and can work to make sure their protected return house.”

“Our thanks additionally to the IIHF, Hockey Canada and everybody related to efforts to placed on the World Junior Championships in these difficult occasions.”

The event is a gigantic endeavor, with months upon months of planning crucial in any yr. The preparation was much more difficult this time due to COVID-19. Tardif mentioned organizers had labored on it for six months.

The event was held in Edmonton final yr with out crowds, and groups have been subjected to tighter COVID-19 restrictions than they initially have been this yr. Omicron started spreading simply as groups arrived in Alberta for this yr’s occasion.

“To cease in the course of the highway may be very troublesome,” Tardif mentioned.

Hockey Canada mentioned it had labored tirelessly to stage a world-class, worldwide occasion in a protected and wholesome setting.

“Regardless of our greatest efforts, and frequently adapting and strengthening protocols, we now have fallen in need of our objective because of the challenges of the present COVID-19 panorama,” the group mentioned in a press release launched on Wednesday. “Though we all know that is the proper choice, we sympathize with all contributors who’ve earned the chance to symbolize their international locations on the world stage and that won’t be able to understand that dream in its entirety.”

Renney, the Hockey Canada CEO, referred to as Wednesday a “unhappy day.”

No one would argue.

“For most children on this event there shall be nothing larger of their hockey profession – and it’s gone right away,” Ray Ferraro, the TSN analyst, mentioned Wednesday. “I really feel terrible.”

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