The big news coming out of Day Four of the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championships is not the games, but the fact the tournament will be cancelled.
— Bobby Margarita (@TSNBobMcKenzie) December 29, 2021
2022 World Junior Championships Cancelled
It comes with no surprise that the 2022 World Junior Championships are being cancelled. The integrity of the tournament, especially round-robin play has been compromised as three teams had forfeited games over the past two days. First, Team USA had to forfeit to Switzerland on Tuesday. Their game against Sweden was still on, but there was talk they were going to forfeit that one too. Now, today, two more games with medal round implications got forfeited. Czechia due to a positive test forfeited to Finland. And because their next game was being played at the same time slot on Thursday, Czechia might have forfeited to Austria, putting Austria into the quarterfinals leaving Czechia with one point.
Then on the Group B side of things in a big game between Slovakia and Russia, Russia had to forfeit that one giving Slovakia the victory. With the round-robin play determining so much what matchups we see later on in the medal round, there was only one decision to make. And that was to cancel the tournament. The IIHF made the right call.
While it is disappointing to the players, you have to wonder about the safety of the players considering there was not a bubble-like last year.
Where It Went Wrong
Prior to the tournament beginning the IIHF stated there would be no relegation this year. That means next year’s tournament will feature 11 teams. As previously mentioned, this was not like the Edmonton bubble as we had a year ago. The 10 teams were split over two sites in Red Deer and Edmonton. However, there were issues with players in the United States, and other teams in the Red Deer hotel coming in contact with the general public despite them being in isolation in their rooms. But it was two to a room, not single rooms.
Team officials have stated that their players are being extremely cautious, staying in their rooms, obeying all protocols and yet this still keeps happening. I’m told there is a wedding reception planned for the hotel USA and Sweden are staying in tonight. What else can they do?
— Chris Peters (@chrismpeters) December 29, 2021
Considering teams were in quarantine since December 15th, you have to wonder how such a thing could have happened? Now the tournament is cancelled as things just spiralled out of control to the point where calling it off made the most sense. And something else that has to come into question is the testing? If all it took was one positive test to forfeit, you have to wonder if the IIHF will adjust the requirements for rosters heading into next year’s tournament.
The only good that can come out of this is that a new plan is put into place where tournaments can be held going forward.
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