World Junior Hockey Tournament Called Because of Covid


The 2022 World Junior Hockey Tournament has, like everything else in the world, been disrupted because of another Covid surge.

On December 29, 2021, the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) announced the cancelation of the 2022 World Junior Hockey Tournament, hockey’s most prestigious junior hockey event and one of the most high-profile opportunities for the top players to showcase their talent prior to the NHL Draft. The cancellation came due to the rising number of players and personnel testing positive in Red Deer, Alberta, for Covid.

IIHF President Luc Tardif expressed regret with the cancellation of this tournament, but acknowledges his agency’s top priority, the safety of players and personnel.

“We owed it to the participating teams to do our best to create the conditions necessary for this event to work,” said Tardif. “Unfortunately, this was not enough. We now have to take some time and focus on getting all players and team staff back home safely.”

Slovakian goaltender Simon Latkoczy, a Nebraska-Omaha commit playing junior hockey in Madison, Wisc., voiced his opinion in emotional Instagram posts about the IIHF’s decision to cancel, and the mistreatment he and his teammates continue to feel.

“We came couple days earlier to be quarantined at our hotel rooms to make sure there is no Covid after traveling. Great, everything went great, no Covid cases after traveling,” he wrote. “We all lived at the hotel where also lived normal citizens. In our hotel, was also [a] barber shop, restaurant and boutique, where normal people were welcomed to come. That restaurant was packed every night. So we were in contact with people who were not part of the tournament all the time. The funniest thing ever is that there was a wedding at our hotel today. What a joke.”

Will Gaca, a senior hockey player from Durham, N.C., described the frustration he feels for the players, and the holiday tradition he feels the cancellation has stripped him of.

“I mean it’s really frustrating for viewers this is a special tournament with kids who will mostly never play in this tournament ever again,” Will said. “The kids lose the experience of a lifetime and can never get that back. Also, it’s the holidays, you watch the world juniors. It doesn’t feel the same without it.”

Members from Team Canada, arguably the most prominent team in the tournament, shared their disappointment via Instagram.

Anaheim Ducks’ 2021 NHL Draft third overall pick, Mason McTavish, posted, “Tough way to end, gonna miss it,” alluding to his final chance to win a World Junior Championship due to his likelyhood to turn pro.

“Short but sweet, tough to see it end,” wrote Connor Bedard, the top 2023 NHL Draft prospect and one of the youngest players in tournament history, who recorded an impressive four goal performance on December 28, 2021, against Austria. Bedard is now recognized as the youngest player to ever record a four goal performance in the World Junior Championship history.

Prior to the mid tournament cancellation of the Men’s World Junior Tournament, the IIHF was under serious scrutiny from supporters of the U18 Women’s World Championship after they cancelled the 2021 Women’s tournament due to concerns surrounding Covid, while simultaneously hosting the boys equivalent as scheduled.

The news of the cancellation broke during the start of the Men’s World Junior Tournament, leaving many hockey community members questioning the IIHF’s acknowledgement of Women’s Hockey, and provoking many distinguished athletes, both male and female, to speak out and call for action against this inequality.

Kendall Coyne Schofield, a member of the United States Women’s Olympic Hockey team, took to Twitter to utilize her platform to expose this unacceptable gender inequality and to call on the IIHF to put forth the same efforts towards women’s hockey as they do men’s.

“The IIHF has prioritized & held top division men’s events during the pandemic but the top division women’s events – cancelled – again,” she said. “UNACCEPTABLE. Figure out how to safely play the U18 Worlds this season, just like the U18 men & #WorldJuniors. These players DESERVE to play too.”

Billie Jean King, former world tennis number one and winner of 39 Grand Slam Titles, wrote, “It is unacceptable for the @IIHFHockey to cancel the 2022 U18 Women’s World Championships for 2nd straight year, while keeping the men’s events scheduled. This continues to widen the gender gap between women’s and men’s sports. #Equality.”

85,000 people and growing have signed the Let The Puck Drop at Women’s U18 World Hockey Championship, a petition circulating on social media created by Lori Bolliger through Her goal, along with the 85,000+ others who have signed it, is to pressure the IIHF into recognizing the unwavering support for women’s hockey and acknowledge women’s hockey equally to men’s.

In a January 10, 2022, update, Lori Bolliger, an Oakville, Canada, resident, updated the petition alerting supporters that IIHF president Luc Tardif has been addressed.

The U18 Women’s World Tournament was scheduled to take place January 8-15, 2022, in Linköping and Mjölby, Sweden. Supporters of the tournament continue to petition against the IIHF for the rescheduling of the U18 Women’s World Tournament, as well as the rescheduling of the interrupted 2022 Men’s World Junior Championship.