Canadian national junior team goaltending prospect Carter Hart, right, makes a pad save while being screened by forward Cody Glass on the first day of selection camp for the 2018 World Junior Hockey Championship in St.Catharines, Ont., Tuesday, December 12, 2017. (Aaron Lynett/The Canadian Press)

IIHF decision looming on world junior men’s hockey championship in Canada

Tournament is scheduled for Dec. 26 in Red Deer and Edmonton

EDMONTON — A decision has yet to be made on whether the 2021 world junior men’s hockey championship in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alta., will be played with or without fans.

The International Ice Hockey Federation’s council will meet later this month to review the status of all tournaments in 2020-21, according to an IIHF spokesman.

Council will hear recommendations and updates from the IIHF’s COVID-19 expert group and host cities.

The 10-country tournament scheduled for Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 at Rogers Place in Edmonton and Westerner Park in Red Deer features the top under-20 players in the world.

The 2020 men’s world hockey championship in Lausanne and Zurich, Switzerland scheduled for May, the women’s championship in Halifax in March and the men’s world under-18 championship in Michigan in April were all cancelled because of the pandemic.

Edmonton and Toronto are currently hub cities for NHL playoffs. That league intends to complete the 2019-20 season interrupted for four months by the pandemic.

Players, coaches and team staff are walled off from the general public in hotels and arenas. Edmonton will host the Stanley Cup final.

No one in the “secure zones” have tested positive for the virus so far, according to the NHL.

“Given the current COVID-19 situation within Canada, together with the bubble measures that have been implemented very successfully by the NHL so far in Edmonton and Toronto, there could be discussions surrounding the feasibility of holding the world juniors in a similar environment,” the IIHF’s Adam Steiss told The Canadian Press in an email.

“The health and safety of players, coaches, officials, arena staff, and fans remains a top priority.”

Hockey Canada did not respond to a request for comment.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 1, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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