Sports·DEC 20 COVID RDUP

Hockey Canada pulls out of Spengler Cup

The tournament is scheduled to run Dec. 26-31 in Davos, Switzerland, but increasing cases spurred by the Omicron variant have caused havoc with a number of sports organizations around the globe.

Monday's Canada-U.S. women's hockey game cancelled

Team Canada, seen here celebrating winning the 93th Spengler Cup on Dec. 31, 2019, has pulled out of the 2021 tournament due to COVID concerns. (Gian Ehrenzeller/The Associated Press)
  • Canada-US women's hockey game cancelled
  • Raptors stop team practices, training individually
  • 47 NFL players test positive, several asymptomatic and vaccinated
  • EPL opts to continue season despite increasing cases

Hockey Canada has decided to not send a team to the annual Spengler Cup because of concerns over COVID-19.

The tournament is scheduled to run Dec. 26-31 in Davos, Switzerland, but increasing cases spurred by the Omicron variant have caused havoc with a number of sports organizations around the globe.

"After careful consideration and following discussion with our chief medical officer about the ever-changing landscape of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hockey Canada has made the difficult decision to withdraw from the 2021 Spengler Cup in Davos, Switzerland," the organization said in a statement released Monday.

"We have a long-standing tradition of participating in the Spengler Cup, and it is disappointing that we are unable to attend the prestigious event this year. However, we strongly believe this is the right decision to maintain the health and safety of our players, coaches and support staff that were set to represent Canada."

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Canada has the most championships of any country at the tournament, most recently in 2019. The tournament was cancelled in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Canada's Spengler Cup team was intended to be Hockey Canada's backup entry for the 2022 Beijing Olympics in February if the NHL pulls out of the Winter Games.

Claude Julien was named the head coach for Canada's team at the Spengler Cup, as well as the Channel One Cup in Russia, in late November.

Canada-U.S. women's hockey game cancelled

An exhibition game between the Canadian and American women's hockey teams has been cancelled.

USA Hockey said in a statement Monday the contest scheduled for the evening is off because of COVID-19 concerns.

Canada and the U.S. have been taking part in a nine-game Rivalry Series ahead of the Beijing Olympics.

"While it is disappointing to not be able to play the game, the priority remains the health and safety of the athletes, staff and the community at large," Hockey Canada said in a release.

Along with cancelling Monday's game, Hockey Canada also postponed the Olympic team roster announcement, which was expected sometime this week, to a yet-to-be-determined date.

The Canadians have won four of the first six games in the series and are coming off 3-2 overtime win on Saturday in St. Louis, Mo. Canada also downed the U.S. 2-1 in overtime Wednesday.

The teams are scheduled to meet for two more games in the cross-border series — Jan. 3 in Edmonton and Jan. 6 in Red Deer, Alta.

The 2022 Winter Games open Feb. 4.

Raptors stop team practices, training individually

The Toronto Raptors have stopped practising as a team, instead working with coaches individually.

It's a precautionary measure being introduced as Toronto's game against Orlando on Monday night was postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak on the Magic.

The Raptors have also been touched by the coronavirus. On Monday, the team added Gary Trent Jr. to the NBA's protocol list, where he joins all-star forward Pascal Siakam and rookie Dalano Banton.

Toronto's new practice regimen will feature just one player and one coach drilling at one net at a time.

There are six nets at the Raptors' practice facility but a team spokesperson says they'll likely limit practice to four of the hoops.

WATCH | How long can sports venues remain full?:

How long can sports venues stay full? | The Breakdown

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As the Omicron variant spreads and COVID case counts rise across sports leagues, infection control epidemiologist Colin Furness says it’s time to stop allowing full-capacity crowds in venues.

All players and team staff will be tested before entering the OVO Athletic Centre.

Toronto's next game is Wednesday in Chicago.

Monday's game against Orlando at Scotiabank Arena was one of several that the NBA postponed. Sunday's games between Denver and Brooklyn, Cleveland and Atlanta and New Orleans and Philadelphia were postponed, while Tuesday's game between the Wizards and Nets has also been scratched.

Several asymptomatic NFL players test positive: source

Several asymptomatic, vaccinated NFL players tested positive for COVID-19 on the first day of "targeted" testing, a person familiar with the results told The Associated Press on Monday.

Overall, 47 players were placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, the most in a single day since the pandemic began. The person, speaking on condition of anonymity because of privacy issues, didn't specify how many of the players are asymptomatic and fully vaccinated.

Kansas City star tight end Travis Kelce, Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa and Lions quarterback Jared Goff are among the players who landed on the reserve list. Bosa will miss this week's game, according to coach Brandon Staley.

Players who test positive must quarantine until they're cleared to return. Under the NFL's revised protocols which went into effect Monday, asymptomatic, vaccinated players can return in less than 10 days.

Kelce, cornerback Charvarius Ward and kicker Harrison Butker tested positive. All played last Thursday night against the Chargers, when Kelce had a career-high 191 yards receiving and caught the tying touchdown pass in the fourth quarter and the winner in overtime.

EPL plays on, urges unvaccinated players to get jabbed

Premier League clubs decided against pausing the season on Monday despite 10 fixtures being postponed in the previous week due to the most widespread coronavirus outbreaks to date across squads.

The Premier League disclosed that only 77 per cent of its players had received two doses. In its first update on vaccine take-up in two months, the league also said 16 per cent of players had not received even a single dose.

Coronavirus cases across players and staff hit another high in the last week, more than doubling from 42 to 90.

Premier League clubs met virtually on Monday after six of the weekend's 10 games were called off.

"While recognizing a number of clubs are experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks and challenges," the league said after the call, "it is the league's collective intention to continue the current fixture schedule where safely possible.

"The health and well-being of all concerned remains our priority and the league will continue to monitor and reflect public health guidance, always proceeding with caution."

Due to the looming fixture congestion to play postponed games, it was announced Monday that plans for replays in the third and fourth rounds of the FA Cup have been scrapped.

The league has urged players to get vaccinated to avoid squads being depleted and games called off due to coronavirus cases.

with files from The Associated Press

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