The International Ice Hockey Federation is canceling all of its January events because of the rise in COVID-19 cases and could announce the move as soon as Friday, sources told ESPN on Thursday night.
The cancellations include the 2022 U18 Women’s World Championships in Sweden, making it the second straight year the IIHF will not have staged the tournament.
The IIHF, meanwhile, held the 2021 U18 Men’s World Championships in Texas and has the 2022 U18 men’s event still scheduled for April in Germany as of now. The IIHF also has staged its U20 Men’s World Junior Championships in each of the past two seasons, including the 2022 tournament, which is just getting underway in Edmonton, Alberta. There is no women’s equivalent of the U20 tournament.
Federations began notifying players on Thursday, sources said.
The news upset many players, who believe the coronavirus pandemic has widened the gender gap in the sport and that the IIHF routinely prioritizes men’s programming over women’s.
“Embarrassing @iihfhockey,” U.S. Women’s National Team forward Abby Roque posted to her Instagram story on Thursday. “Fix this.”
Some lower-tier men’s and women’s tournaments also are among the January cancellations.