2022 World Junior Championship canceled due to rising COVID cases
The remainder of the 2022 World Junior Championship has been canceled due to the ongoing spread of COVID-19, the IIHF announced Wednesday.
Three preliminary-round contests were called off over the past two days due to a handful of players testing positive.
"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," IIHF President Luc Tardif said. "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," Tardif said. "Unfortunately, this was not enough. We now have to take some time and focus on getting all players and team staff back home safely."
Tardif told reporters during a press conference Wednesday night that the IIHF will work over the next month to try to reschedule the tournament at a later date in the year, per TSN.
Team USA had two players test positive and had to forfeit its game against Switzerland on Tuesday, while Czechia-Finland and Russia-Slovakia were both canceled Wednesday.
Any team that received a positive test result had to enter a mandated quarantine.
After Czechia forfeited its contest against the Finns due to one positive test, the IIHF announced that all on-ice game officials at the tournament would be required to wear masks during games as part of enhanced COVID-19 protocols.
Last week, the IIHF canceled all upcoming tournaments that would have started in January because of the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.
The world juniors, which were held in the Canadian province of Alberta, began Dec. 26. Team Canada forward Cole Perfetti will end the competition as the leading scorer with six points in two games. Sixteen-year-old Connor Bedard led the way in goals after lighting the lamp four times against Austria on Tuesday.
Team USA took home the gold medal in 2021.
The final game to take place at the 2022 world juniors was Canada's 11-2 victory over Austria.