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Crowds for world junior games cut in half amid Alberta's tightened restrictions

The world junior hockey championships are cutting crowd capacity in half for all games, after Alberta tightened restrictions amid the surging Omicron variant. 

Hockey Canada said in a statement Tuesday that the event ticketing team is addressing how to implement the change and will be in contact with ticket holders by the end of day on Dec. 23.

"We thank our ticket holders for their patience and request that they please wait to receive the detailed communication before inquiring about next steps," the statement said.

The world championships are scheduled to start on Boxing Day in Edmonton and Red Deer. 

Alberta's chief officer of health said Tuesday that there were 6,045 active Omicron cases in Alberta, an increase of nearly 600 from the day before. She said variant case count is doubling every two to three days.

Pre-tournament games at the world junior hockey championships, which were supposed to have started this past Sunday, had already been pushed back and reduced due to the "changing epidemiological situation" around the pandemic, Hockey Canada said in a statement. 

Each team will play one game on Thursday, with Canada taking on Russia. 

“With five exciting games scheduled for Edmonton and Red Deer, we look forward to the teams hitting the ice in both communities and getting the World Juniors festivities underway," said Dean McIntosh, Hockey Canada's vice-president of events and properties. 

Eleven games had originally been scheduled as part of the pre-tournament schedule. 

The teams arrived in Canada last week. Players and staff were required to produce two negative tests before departing for Canada and have been tested every day since their arrival.

The 2021 world junior championship in Edmonton was held minus fans because of the pandemic.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 21, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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