The upcoming Mac’s U18AAA Tournament in Calgary has been cancelled amid COVID-19 uncertainty.
The hockey tournament was scheduled to start on Dec. 27 and wrap up on Jan. 2. However, in a statement released Tuesday night, the tournament committee said it made the “difficult decision” to cancel this year’s tournament.
“With the rising cases and constantly changing environment of the COVID-19 pandemic, we feel it is not appropriate to execute the tournament as planned,” reads the statement.
“The decision was made after weighing all options and is based on many factors.”
Some of those factors include the health and well-being of teams, spectators and volunteers, positive cases reported by participating teams, and the inability to play in a “bubble” atmosphere, the tournament committee said.
Additional factors include the impact of new restrictions announced by the Alberta government on Tuesday, the possibility of minor-aged players becoming unable to leave Calgary or Canada due to a positive COVID-19 test, and concerns raised by some teams regarding travel at this time.
The Mac’s tournament would have hosted 30 squads from Canada, the United States and the Hungarian U18 National Team.
“We are disappointed for the players, coaches, and their families, but we hope for better days in 2022,” read the statement from the tournament committee.
“We are considering all options moving forward including rescheduling the tournament to a later date and will communicate any changes moving forward. No matter what happens, we look forward to a bigger and better tournament in the 2022-23 season.”
On Tuesday afternoon, Premier Jason Kenney announced new public health restrictions for large events, reducing venues with a capacity of 1,000 or more to 50 per cent. Venues that hold 500 to 1,000 people must cap their capacity at 500 people.
In addition, attendees must be masked at all times. Food and drink can’t be consumed in seats or at intermission to ensure masks are worn throughout.
These new measures come into effect on Friday morning.
The new restrictions were announced amid a surge in COVID-19 cases in Alberta, driven by the Omicron variant of concern.
Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Omicron has become the dominant strain in the province, about three weeks after identifying the first case.
Hinshaw said Tuesday there were 1,609 Omicron cases in the province — an increase of nearly 600 from the day before.