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.
Disappointed. Nope. OUTRAGED!
These women deserve better. Yet again. https://t.co/Ww1rfWtRJu
— PWHPA (@PWHPA) December 24, 2021
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.
It’s so wrong to cancel Women’s World U18 and not just postpone to later in 2022. This is the 2nd year in a row. What a double standard by @IIHFHockey, do better for these players. https://t.co/PlVXoJHsj7
— Allan Walsh (@walsha) December 24, 2021
I don’t know how you put out a statement saying you’re canceling tournaments because spread is a concern while actively holding a tournament with fans in attendance https://t.co/yvhecSjk8m
— Michelle Jay (@michelle_jay3) December 24, 2021
The cancellation of the tournament even got the Professional Hockey Federation to chime in.
32 current PHF athletes have benefitted from U18 Women’s World Championship experience since 2008.
This is an important stage in the development of the game’s rising stars, and our heart breaks for everyone who has worked so hard to earn their deserved opportunity to compete. https://t.co/wUDSy70NC5
— PHF (@PHF) December 24, 2021
Players and other athletes outside of hockey also had a lot to say about the decision.
I Hope the @IIHFHOCKEY will reschedule this! Playing in the U-18 Women’s Worlds was such an amazing experience and one that helped my development and dreams to play in the Olympics start! For the future of women’s hockey these girls need to play! https://t.co/V44JAvrnl8
— Natalie Spooner (@natspooner5) December 24, 2021
The @IIHFHockey has prioritized/held top division mens events during the pandemic but the top division womens events - cancelled again. UNACCEPTABLE. Figure out how to safely play the U18 Worlds this season, just like the U18 men & #WorldJuniors. These players DESERVE to play too pic.twitter.com/kKmgErKetx
— Kendall Coyne Schofield (@KendallCoyne) December 24, 2021
— Colby Cohen (@ColbyCohen36) December 24, 2021
It is unacceptable for @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 & men’s sports.
Please retweet! #Equality https://t.co/oprARTBAr9 https://t.co/ApIEcBJBkS
— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) December 24, 2021
This is beyond disappointing. The IIHF has continually prioritized top men’s events during the pandemic but the u18 women’s event is cancelled - AGAIN. The u18 women’s tournament must be safely played the this season, just like the U18 men & #WorldJuniors. They deserve it. https://t.co/i3YdlP2wRC
— Meghan Duggan (@mduggan10) December 24, 2021
— Marie-Philip Poulin (@pou29) December 24, 2021
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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