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Hextall on Hockey: Women’s tournament cancelled while men play on

The province of Nova Scotia withdrew its permission for the women’s world hockey championship over concerns of increasing COVID-19 numbers.

We’re in a pandemic and the health and safety of the public is more important than sport. Understood.

What I don’t understand is how men’s tournaments have been played throughout the pandemic in time periods where COVID-19 has been at its highest positivity rates.

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The 2021 world men’s, juniors and under-18 championships all have dates in the IIHF’s calendar.

We saw the world juniors carried out successfully in the Edmonton bubble, while the under-18 women’s tournament was cancelled.

Now, for the second straight year, the women’s worlds is cancelled.

Read more:
Nova Scotia cancels women’s world hockey championship for 2nd time amid rising COVID-19 cases

It has been nearly two years since the last competitive women’s hockey tournament – the 2019 worlds.

I understand we’re in a pandemic, but the men’s under-18 world championship begins Monday in Texas.

The men’s world championship is scheduled for the end of May in Latvia.

I personally just called the NCAA Division I men’s regional hockey tournament in Fargo, N.D. — a 16-team tournament in various locations with protocols so strict that a competing team, Michigan, was forced to withdraw from the NCAA regional just hours before the game due to a positive test.

The players, staff and public were protected. Play continued on and a champion was crowned.

The sport world has the protocols in place to make these tournaments happen – safely.

The cancellation of the women’s worlds just doesn’t sit right.

I’m not questioning the provincial government taking action to protect its citizens, but I am questioning why the women’s tournament wasn’t protected.

The IIIHF released a statement that, based on its and Hockey Canada’s experiences from hosting the world junior championship in Edmonton, adequate safety measures were in place for the world women’s tournament to protect players, officials, spectators and all residents.

But one thing was lacking from the Edmonton experience – the bubble.

Why wasn’t the women’s world championship prioritized to have the same resources allocated by the IIHF and Hockey Canada to have the tournament take place in a bubble?

Do we truly believe if it was the men’s world championship, on Canadian soil, that a bubble wouldn’t have been planned? That the tournament would have been cancelled?

Hockey Canada has vowed that the women’s world championship will be played this year.

I look forward to it and I hear the Edmonton bubble is lovely in the summer.

Click to play video: Celebrating Women’s Hockey with Hockey-Hall-of-Famer Marie-Philip Poulin

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