In September 2020, the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) cancelled multiple tournaments following recommendations from its expert COVID-19 group, citing financial risks and participants falling ill — all valid concerns in this global pandemic.
The only exception from the IIHF cancellations was the 2021 world junior championship.
Not exempted from the cancellations was the U-18 women’s world championship, which would have started Tuesday and run until Jan. 12 in Sweden.
Here is my concern: if the IIHF can host the men’s tournament, why couldn’t it host the women’s?
Why not relocate the U-18 women’s world championship to the Edmonton bubble? Everything is already in place, including health and safety protocols.
It would be a seamless transition from the U-20 men’s to the U-18 women’s world championship.
Now, if it was impossible for the bubble to accommodate the women’s championship, why didn’t the IIHF chose to postpone it until the spring — when the U-18 men’s world championship is scheduled to play? It wasn’t cancelled by the IIHF.
The world championships from the U-20 level down, men and women, are about player development — the opportunity for these young men and women to compete for their respective countries against the best hockey players in the world.
It’s why many NHL teams make their roster players eligible to participate in the men’s tournament — to develop their skills on and off the ice.
The IIHF made the choice to cancel this opportunity for 51 per cent of the world’s population.
That’s a valid concern. Even more concerning is that we all just went along with it.