Czechia forfeits world junior game against Finland due to positive COVID-19 test

The latest sports news:

  • Czechia forfeits world junior game against Finland due to COVID-19
  • NHL cutting COVID-19 isolation time to 5 days, change doesn’t apply to Canada
  • Novak Djokovic withdraws from ATP Cup

A second game in as many days was forfeited Wednesday at the world junior men’s hockey championship because of COVID-19.

Finland’s game against Czechia, scheduled to start at noon local time at Edmonton’s Rogers Place, was abruptly called off in the morning because a Czech player tested positive for the virus.

A 1-0 win was awarded to Finland under International Ice Hockey Federation rules. All on-ice game officials will be required to wear masks until further notice, the IIHF said Wednesday in a statement.

That came a day after the United States had to forfeit a game to Switzerland in Red Deer, Alta., because two Americans had tested positive for the virus.

More testing of the U.S. team was underway Wednesday to determine if its Pool B game against Sweden would go ahead that night in Red Deer.

The Czechs are scheduled to play Austria on Thursday.

Canada (2-0) was to face Germany (0-1-0-1) in a Pool A game in Edmonton, while Russia (1-1) was to meet Slovakia (0-2) in Red Deer on Wednesday.

The preliminary round in each pool concludes Friday with quarter-finals scheduled for Sunday.

While no games are scheduled for Saturday, makeup games can’t be played that day because it is against IIHF sport regulations for teams to play games on three straight days in tournaments.

NHL cutting COVID-19 isolation time to 5 days

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly looks on during the second round of the NHL draft at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on June 22, 2019/ (Chad Hipolito/The Canadian Press)

The NHL is following other leagues and the CDC by cutting COVID-19 isolation times to five days under certain conditions and where it is allowed by local laws.

Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly on Wednesday confirmed the new protocols, which were first reported by Daily Faceoff.

The change only applies in the United States because of stricter pandemic regulations in Canada. Players, coaches and staff who test positive for the coronavirus can return after five days with a negative PCR test or two negative rapid test results taken more than two hours apart.

“I think that’s a good step,” Nashville Predators forward Filip Forsberg said on a video call. “Obviously testing will still be a regular thing, I’m sure, and that’s something that we dealt with all last year, so we’re used to that. But I think that’s the way to do it as long as we can keep everything in the way it’s been, which has been pretty safe to me.”

The 10-day isolation requirement remains in Canada. The NBA and NFL previously reduced to six and five days, respectively, after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidance.

Hockey players this week had expressed a desire for shorter isolation times. Daily testing and enhanced protocols, including mask-wearing at team facilities unless on the ice for games or practices, are in effect through at least Jan. 7.

The league has postponed 80 games so far this season, counting the nine in Canada because of crowd restrictions in the provinces of Quebec, Ontario and Manitoba. Another game, scheduled for Jan. 12 between the Canadiens and Bruins, was moved from Montreal to Boston, where fans are permitted.

Djokovic withdraws from ATP Cup

Novak Djokovic has withdrawn from the ATP Cup in Australia ahead of the first Grand Slam tournament of the season, organizers said Wednesday.

No reason was given but the top-ranked Serb has declined to comment on his vaccination status in recent months and Australia’s strict regulations require all players, officials and fans to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

ATP Cup organizers disclosed Djokovic’s withdrawal in a roster update that included France replacing Austria in the 16-country event following the withdrawals of Dominic Thiem and Dennis Novak. Dusan Lajovic will replace Djokovic for Serbia.

Fifth-ranked Andrey Rublev of Russia also pulled out, as did teammates Aslan Karatsev and Evgeny Donskoy.

The ATP Cup begins Saturday in Sydney.

The Australian Open men’s entry list announced in early December had the 34-year-old Djokovic at No. 1 in what was seen as a further indication that he’ll be playing at Melbourne Park beginning Jan. 17 despite Australia’s tight regulations.

The nine-time Australian Open champion is tied with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for the men’s record of 20 Grand Slam singles titles.

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