By Hailey Salvian and The Athletic Staff
December 24, 2021 10:45 AM EST
29 Comments


The IIHF has canceled all January tournaments, including the 2022 IIHF Women's World U18 Championship in Sweden, due to rising COVID-19 cases, the governing body said on Friday. This marks the second consecutive year the tournament has been canceled due to COVID-19.

The tournament could not be rescheduled due to league commitments in Sweden during possible postponement dates, the IIHF said. The U20 Men's World Championship for Division II was also canceled.

“These are hard facts to have to face, and as with last year we must take the difficult decision to cancel men’s and women’s IIHF events, including the women’s U18 top division now for the second year in a row,” IIHF President Luc Tardif said in a news release.

“It is the consensus of the IIHF Medical Committee that the organizers would not have the capability to manage an outbreak of the virus, especially with the rapid transfer of the Omicron variant that we have seen in the NHL and other leagues.”

Meanwhile, the 2022 World Junior Championship is set to start on Dec. 26 in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alta., with pre-tournament games getting underway Thursday night. Hockey Canada announced attendance for the world juniors would be capped at 50 percent in line with Alberta government regulations amid the surge in COVID-19 cases.

The 2021 U18 Men's World Championship also took place last spring in Texas, with Canada winning gold. When the move to Texas was announced in February, Olympic medalist and world champion Blayre Turnbull tweeted at the IIHF, saying, "Any update on women’s worlds or are we still at the bottom of the priority list? "

The 2021 Women's World Championship was initially canceled in April due to concerns over COVID-19 — the second year in a row the world championships had been canceled after it was canceled in 2020. However, it was ultimately rescheduled for August 2021 where Canada won gold.

Erin Ambrose, a member of the senior women’s national team, questioned the decision to cancel the championship on social media Thursday night.

"Why is it automatically a cancellation?" she wrote in a tweet. "We understand the concerns regarding health and safety but why is a postponement not considered for these women as the men’s tournaments continue without hesitation? #equalityinsport @IIHFHockey"

(Photo of Erin Ambrose: Derek Leung / Getty Images)
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