The remainder of the world junior hockey championship in Canada has been canceled over fears of a COVID-19 outbreak.
The International Ice Hockey Federation made the announcement Wednesday on the recommendation of the organization’s medical officials. Citing the spread of the coronavirus and the omicron variant, the IIHF canceled the rest of the tournament “to ensure the health and safety of all participants.”
Two games had already been forfeited because of positive coronavirus test results among U.S. and Czech players and another was imminent with Russia. Two U.S. players and one Czech player had returned positive tests, leading to team quarantine mandates.
The IIHF council determined the integrity of the event had been compromised by the forfeits, leading to the cancellation.
“We owed it to the participating teams to do our best to create the conditions necessary for this event to work,” IIHF President Luc 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.”
The top tournament in the world for players under age 20 had completed nine games in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alberta, before being called off.
“Our staff was very proud and honored to be a part of this group,” U.S. coach Nate Leaman tweeted with a picture of his team. “We are crushed for them. They represented USA the right way and are winners.”