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Sports Digest: Rest of world junior championship canceled over COVID-19

Written by corres2

HOCKEY

The remainder of the world junior hockey championship in Canada has been canceled over fears of a COVID-19 outbreak.

The International Ice Hockey Federation made the announcement Wednesday on the recommendation of the organization’s medical officials. Citing the spread of the coronavirus and the omicron variant, the IIHF canceled the rest of the tournament “to ensure the health and safety of all participants.”

Two games had already been forfeited because of positive coronavirus test results among U.S. and Czech players and another was imminent with Russia. Two U.S. players and one Czech player had returned positive tests, leading to team quarantine mandates.

The IIHF council determined the integrity of the event had been compromised by the forfeits, leading to the cancellation.

“We owed it to the participating teams to do our best to create the conditions necessary for this event to work,” IIHF President Luc Tardif said. “Unfortunately, this was not enough. We now have to take some time and focus on getting all players and team staff back home safely.”

The top tournament in the world for players under age 20 had completed nine games in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alberta, before being called off.

“Our staff was very proud and honored to be a part of this group,” U.S. Coach Nate Leaman tweeted with a picture of his team. “We are crushed for them. They represented USA the right way and are winners.”

SOCCER

POLAND: The president of the Polish soccer federation said that national team coach Paulo Sousa’s contract had been terminated, with Brazilian club Flamengo announcing the same day it had hired the 51-year old Sousa on a two-year contract.

Marking a controversial exit, Cezary Kulesza said the Polish federation board’s decision was unanimous and that Sousa will have to pay “compensation in line with the federation’s expectations.” The president did not specify the amount.

Kulesza on Sunday accused Sousa, a former Portugal player, of “extremely irresponsible behavior” for seeking to leave his post after receiving an offer from a club. Kulesza said at the time he had “firmly refused” the request from Sousa, who wanted to leave by mutual agreement.

COVID-19: Eleven players across the Barcelona and Real Madrid squads were isolating after contracting the coronavirus ahead of the resumption of the Spanish league this weekend.

Barcelona players Ousmane Dembele, Samuel Umtiti and Gavi have COVID-19, the team said, after Jordi Alba, Alejandro Balde, Clement Lenglet and Dani Alves were announced earlier this week as having tested positive.

It is a further setback for Barcelona going into Sunday’s match at Mallorca in seventh place with the team also depleted by injuries.

Real Madrid, which leads the league by eight points, said that Thibaut Courtois, Federico Valverde, Eduardo Camavinga and Vinicius Jr. tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of Sunday’s game against Getafe.

BASEBALL

MAJORS: Kyle Seager announced his retirement after 11 seasons in the majors, all with the Seattle Mariners.

Always one to eschew social media, Seager made his decision known through a short statement posted by his wife, Julie, on her Twitter account.

The 34-year-old Seager became a free agent after the season when Seattle opted not to exercise a club option on his contract. Rather than test the open market and with the uncertainty created by the ongoing lockout, Seager chose to call it a career.

Seager’s retirement is a bit surprising considering he was coming off one of his best seasons. He hit a career-high 35 home runs and had a career-best 101 RBI last season as Seattle made a late run into playoff contention only to fall short in the final days.

SKIING

WOMEN’S WORLD CUP: Defending overall champion Petra Vlhova dominated a slalom at Lienz, Austria, to build a big lead over Mikaela Shiffrin in the discipline standings.

In the last event of the calendar year, Vlhova held onto her first-run lead and beat world champion Katharina Liensberger by .51 seconds. The Austrian was cleared to race only two days ago after quarantining to recover from a coronavirus infection.

Swiss skier Michelle Gisin finished .68 behind in third, ahead of Katharina Truppe of Austria, who climbed from 13th place after posting the fastest second-run time.

Shiffrin had to sit out the event following a positive COVID-19 test that also forced her out of Tuesday’s giant slalom on the same hill.

Vlhova extended her lead over Shiffrin to 120 points after four of the nine slaloms scheduled this World Cup season.

MEN’S WORLD CUP: Aleksander Aamodt Kilde mastered a tricky course to win a super-G by a large margin at Borzio, Italy, for his third straight victory in the discipline.

Kilde finished 0.72 seconds ahead of Raphael Haaser of Austria and 0.85 seconds ahead of another Austrian, world champion Vincent Kriechmayr.

MEDIA

ESPN: Dick Vitale is taking an extended break from the airwaves to rest his voice.

The ESPN college basketball analyst said that on a recent visit to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, throat specialist Dr. Steven Zeitels advised him to rest his voice because he has pre-cancerous Dysplasia of the vocal cord membranes.

“The good news is that he doesn’t believe anything is life-threatening,” the 82-year-old Vitale said. “Bottom line is I need to rest them – my voice needs a T.O., BABY!”

Vitale has undergone treatment this year for melanoma and announced in August that was declared cancer-free. In October, he announced that he had been diagnosed with cancer for a second time. The Basketball Hall of Fame announcer said tests showed he had lymphoma and the treatment plan involved steroids and six months of chemotherapy. He was told by medical experts that there is a 90% cure rate and he had planned to manage his work schedule around his chemotherapy schedule.

Because he will be away from college basketball broadcasts, Vitale said he didn’t want people to fear that he had a setback in his cancer recovery.

“Of course, I am heartbroken that I won’t be immediately sitting courtside doing what I love, yet I’m in this for the long run,” Vitale said. “I plan to do games when I’m 100 – I need to listen to Dr. Z!”

Vitale joined ESPN less than four months after it launched in September 1979. He has been a longtime supporter of the V Foundation for Cancer Research and hosts a yearly gala for pediatric cancer research.


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