The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) has cancelled the rest of the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship due to the ongoing spread of COVID-19 amongst some of the teams.
In a statement released by the IIHF, president Luc Tardif explained the decision came down to the health and safety of the players and staff.
“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. Unfortunately, this was not enough. We now have to take some time and focus on getting all players and team staff back home safely.”
U.S. National Junior team general manger John Vanbiesbrouck shared a statement on behalf of USA Hockey regarding the decision.
In total, three games had been forfeited before the decision to the cancel the rest of the tournament.
The United States had two players test positive and were forced to forfeit their Dec. 28 matchup with Switzerland. Czech and Russia each had one positive case on their teams, causing them to forfeit their Dec. 29 games with Finland and Slovakia, respectively.
The 11-day tournament, which was scheduled to run through Jan. 5, completed just nine games in the preliminary round. Not including the three forfeits, which counted in the standings as 1-0 losses for those forced to forfeit, no team played more than two games.
The United States played in one actual game, a 3-2 win over Slovakia.