The International Ice Hockey Federation has come under fire this past week when it announced the cancellation of six tournaments in January 2022, including the women’s U18 world championship. 

For a second year in a row, the women’s U18s has been cancelled after the 2021 edition was also axed due to COVID-19. 

The cancellation has raised questions around equality with the men’s IIHF U18 and U20 tournaments able to go on.

IIHF president Luc Tardif maintains that the decision to cancel the six tournaments was due to COVID-19 concerns. 

“(On) the 23rd (of December), when we took the decision, 62 games were cancelled by the NHL,” Tardif said on the latest episode of The Ray & Dregs Podcast. “So that’s why we organized a meeting with the medical community and they said we cannot organize those tournaments in January.”

With the women’s U18s, originally scheduled to take place in Sweden, being cancelled instead of postponed, it opens the door for other hockey federations to step in and make a proposal to host. 

On Monday, USA Hockey released a statement asking the IIHF to reschedule the women’s U18s. In response, Tardif calls on USA Hockey to replicate what Hockey Canada did in the wake of the 2021 Women’s Worlds being cancelled in April in Nova Scotia before being rescheduled to August in Calgary. 

“I saw a declaration statement by USA Hockey to inquire and try and change the decision of council,” said Tardif. "I said okay, I challenge you USA Hockey because the job Hockey Canada did to move the tournament in August, now it is time for USA Hockey to do it. I’m not just satisfied with a letter, I want act. 

"If they’re coming with a proposition, I’m talking about June because it’s not possible to do in April. April, March we’ve got 20 tournaments, in May that’s our [men’s] World Championship so it can only be in June. If they’re coming, I’m sure I can convince the council with the new facts and new proposal to change our minds. Us, we’re going to do the same thing with the five other tournaments, we’re going to try and to find a solution if COVID (is) excepted."

COVID-19 has been an issue so far at the 2022 World Junior Championship, with the United States forfeiting Tuesday’s game against Switzerland due to two players testing positive. 

The IIHF decided that no teams will be relegated this year due to COVID-19 and next year’s tournament in Novosibirsk and Omsk, Russia will feature 11 teams instead of the regular 10. 

“I’m not going to say we expected it but you know, just a little bit before the players arrived here middle of December, December 15th exactly, the wave of Omicron was already started a little bit because we saw that the NHL game, some counts started slowly and what’s going all around the world and in every sport,” said Tardif. “Even [though] we made a bubble, at least tried to make it more efficient, you can see that’s really difficult to fight against this virus.”