Finland’s u20 men’s ice hockey team have arrived in Edmonton Canada to enter a coronavirus ‘bubble’ ahead of this year’s World Championship Tournament.
But the Young Lions, who were champions in 2016 and 2019, started their journey on Sunday with a slippery start at Helsinki Airport.
The Finns were booked on a flight along with the Swedish and Russian teams, but the plane chartered by tournament organisers wasn’t big enough for all the luggage. It was the same problem that plagued the Czech, Slovak and Austrian teams on the plane they shared from Vienna airport – lots of gear but not enough space on board.
Both planes eventually managed to take off for their destinations a few hours late with tournament organisers reportedly arranging a cargo plane to transport the excess luggage.
However, due to the small size of aircraft not only did the teams have to make two stopovers en route to Edmonton, but there was also no practical way to ensure continued social distancing on board.
“The players and staff are assuming the majority of risk to make this happen.”
Strict quarantine rules in hockey bubble
The Young Lions, and other participating teams, already had to quarantine for a week in Finland before starting their travel, and then must also quarantine for four days in Canada before the start of training on 18th December.
During the testing process there were no positive results on the Finnish team, for players or coaching staff, although Sweden lost a number of players and backroom staff who tested positive for Covid-19.
“The situation in Sweden is unfortunate, but this is what pre-testing is all about: when asymptomatic plaintiffs are found, there should be no people on the trip who are infecting others” says the Young Lions team manager Kimmo Oikarinen.
This year’s World Championship tournament begins on Christmas Day 25th December and Finland faces Germany, Slovakia, Switzerland and hosts Canada in Group A games.