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Russian world junior hockey team allegedly kicked off flight for not complying with mask policy

Due to the spread of COVID-19, driven now by the omicron variant while the delta variant still remains prevalent, the 2022 world junior hockey championship was canceled.

The championship event was originally scheduled for December 29, and frustrated coaches and players were disappointed to miss out on the experience. 

Some took to online platforms and other media to air out their complaints. “I am very sad and angry about this decision. Above all, I am sad for the players and the rest of the management team. Especially for the players born in 2002, because they also missed the Under-18 World Championships earlier,” noted Finland coach Antti Pennanen.

“I am angry because this was not a COVID problem, but a problem of poor management…There should have been an NHL protocol here, where only the infected are quarantined, not the whole team. That’s why games had to be cancelled. It should have bene handled in such a way that those who are positive are sidelined and the rest are allowed to continue playing.” 

Others, though, took their frustrations out publicly. Due to disturbances caused by the Russian team, an Air Canada flight from Calgary scheduled to land in Frankfurt, Germany was delayed for several hours on New Year’s Eve.

The teams were later kicked off the plane for their failure to comply with certain safety measures, as well as other offenses. According to Russia head coach Sergei Zuboc, the teams were removed from the flight for their violation of the “very strict” mask rules. 

Passengers took to Twitter to note their annoyances with those responsible for delaying the flight. “Two hours late so far on Calgary to Frankfurt flight,” one user wrote. “The Russian Juniors team was in back, trying to smoke cigarettes, not wearing masks, not listening to attendants. Cops swarmed the plane. We all had to get off while they and their luggage were removed.”

Team Czechia was also removed from the flight, but they were wrongly accused. Air Canada later apologized to the team. 

ARTICLE: ELIZABETH HERTZBERG

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: BLEACHER REPORT

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