World junior pre-tournament schedule pushed back due to COVID-19 surge

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The start of the world junior hockey championship pre-tournament is being pushed back due the recent COVID-19 surge.

The pre-tournament games were set to start Sunday, including Canada versus Switzerland in Red Deer, but Hockey Canada said in a release Saturday that it was amending the schedule due to the "changing epidemiological situation" surrounding the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

While the updated schedule hasn't been finalized, games won't start until Dec. 23. Hockey Canada is also pausing the sale of tickets for all pre-tournament games.

"Although this was a difficult decision that was made with careful consideration, we understand this is challenging for players, coaching and support staffs, and fans," said Scott Smith, president and CEO of Hockey Canada. "However, it is our goal to host a safe and successful event, and we will continue to take every precaution necessary to achieve that goal and distribute medals on Jan. 5."

Eleven games were scheduled as part of the pre-tournament schedule, with each team playing a minimum of two games.

The world tournament gets underway on Boxing Day. Canada opens the tournament against the Czech Republic at Rogers Place in Edmonton.

The teams arrived in Canada this week. Players and staff were required to produce two negative tests before departing for Canada and have been tested every day since their arrival.

The 2021 world junior championship in Edmonton was held minus fans because of the pandemic.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 18, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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