The IIHF could not have timed this more poorly.
On Friday, the International Ice Hockey Federation – the worldwide governing body of the sport – announced that it will be cancelling all tournaments during the month of January. That includes the prominent Women’s Under-18 tournament that was set to take place in Sweden.
It's the second time in as many years that the IIHF has cancelled the tournament due to COVID-19 concerns.
This announcement comes just a dozen or so hours after the World Junior Championship, the heralded Men’s Under-20 tournament that is currently taking place in Alberta, finished its last exhibition game before starting the real action on Dec. 26.
The contrast of the women’s junior tournament being cancelled as the hype around seeing these NHL prospects play is rightfully getting fans upset.
The cancellation of the tournament even got the Professional Hockey Federation to chime in.
Players and other athletes outside of hockey also had a lot to say about the decision.
Unfortunately for everyone involved, the IIHF did a terrible job communicating exactly why one tournament was going on and another that would start just three days after the World Juniors medals were awarded was cancelled.
TSN broadcaster Gord Miller had to chime in with an informative thread, and to do the IIHF’s communication dirty work.
Miller stresses that the majority of the cost for running the tournaments actually lies on the city or country that is hosting it, and with the men’s tournaments that have actually been able to take place in Canada and the United States, those are able to continue. In regards to the World Juniors still taking place, he mentions that the teams arrived in early December and are still in lockdown with daily testing; the logistics already in place. Not to mention that Hockey Canada is getting support from the Edmonton Oilers to make it all happen.
It, of course, all comes down to money and resources for these tournaments to happen.
Seeing as this is now the second consecutive Women’s Under-18 tournament that has been cancelled, hopefully this time around it will be more of a postponement than an outright cancellation. The tournament is the starting point for the future of the sport, so going 36 months without it happening seems a little counterintuitive.
We just want to watch more hockey.
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