Winter Olympics: Canada and ROC women ice hockey players take to ice with masks

Six members of the Russian team had earlier been in quarantine after testing positive for Covid-19. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (REUTERS) - A women’s ice hockey preliminary-round game between Canada and the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) at the Beijing Winter Games was delayed by an hour on Monday (Feb 7), before players returned to the ice wearing masks, due to “safety and security concerns”.

Canada would go on to register a routine 6-1 win but the contest was far from uneventful as it got off to a chaotic and confusing start.

In a communique to the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), the International Olympic Committee (IOC) did not specify what those safety and security concerns were but Canadian media reported the ROC had not provided Canada with Covid-19 test results.

Six members of the ROC squad had been placed in isolation last week after testing positive for the virus.

“There was a delay today in the start of the ice hockey match between ROC and the Canadian women’s’ teams,” an IOC spokesperson said.

“Pursuant to discussions between the two teams, they both agreed that the match would start with both sides wearing masks.”

While athletes have operated under strict COVID-19 protocols in Beijing they have not had to wear a mask during competition.

Canadian Olympic Committee staff were unclear of the reason for the delay as they huddled around televisions in their office in the hope of finding answers.

The ROC skated onto the Wukesong Sports Centre ice for the introductions but were left standing on the blueline as the Canadians failed to join them.

When the players returned an hour later, both teams were wearing masks under their helmets.

The masks did not seem to hurt the Canadians’ performance as they jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead with Sarah Nurse and Sarah Fillier scoring 20 seconds apart. 

Jamie Lee Rattray and Erin Ambrose put Canada up 4-0 in the second before Anna Shokhina finally got the ROC on the scoresheet. Rebecca Johnston and Marie-Philip Poulin closed out the scoring.

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