The World Juniors will go on, with the help of the NHL playoff bubble, the IIHF announced today.
Scheduled to be held in Edmonton and Red Deer this December and January, the 2021 World Junior Championship will now be held entirely within the Edmonton Ice District. The tournament will be held without fans, with a “competition bubble” isolating players, staff, and officials.
It’s the same plan that has worked tremendously well for the NHL, which has not reported a positive test since teams began arriving within their playoff bubbles in Edmonton and Toronto in late July.
“Hockey Canada believes it will be able to host a safe and successful event for all participants and the community at large this year by following strict safety protocols set forth by the appropriate health authorities,” said Hockey Canada CEO Tom Renny. “These are extraordinary times, and we understand the World Juniors will look different this year while being played in one venue with additional safety precautions.”
Because of the changes, the tournament schedule will be revised and announced at a later date.
The World Junior travel plan will see 3 charters deliver countries from Europe into Edmonton beginning the 2nd week of December. Intensive testing before those flights will be mandatory followed by strict protocol and daily testing upon arrival in the Hub.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) September 17, 2020
Ten teams from North America and Europe are scheduled to compete in this year’s tournament, and like the NHL bubble, players and staff are expected to be tested regularly before and after arrival to Edmonton.
The IIHF also announced that Edmonton and Red Deer will now also host next year’s tournament, which was previously scheduled to take place in Gothenburg, Sweden, with the expectation that fans will be able to attend games by then. Sweden will now host the 2024 tournament.
“This is a tough decision to have to take, but ultimately we did not have a choice,” said IIHF President René Fasel. “The health and safety of players, officials, and fans is our top priority. We were impressed with the presentation from the local organizing committee outlining how a potential ‘bubble’ scenario would operate within Edmonton, and we are confident that we can follow the NHL’s great example in creating a safe environment for teams to compete.”