Hockey Canada says summer, “understandable test” behind small World Juniors crowds

Empty seats were a staple at the unusual World Junior Hockey Championships in Edmonton this month — and Hockey Canada says scandals surrounding the organization are holding fans back at times.

While the tournament normally expects thousands of avid hockey fans to attend each game, the average attendance for the tournament’s 20 preliminary round games was 1,319.

Hockey Canada said there are “a few reasons” people have chosen to stay home for the rescheduled 2022 tournament.

“First, the COVID-19 pandemic has postponed this tournament to August,” the organization said in a statement Tuesday. “And secondly, there is understandable research by Canadians into Hockey Canada and hockey culture.”

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Hockey Canada tries to ‘save’ World Juniors amid scandals and low ticket sales.

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Hockey Canada was met with criticism as the 10-team tournament began on August 9.

The national sports body has come under fire in recent months for its handling of sexual assault allegations against members of two former world junior teams.

The allegations led to parliamentary inquiries and the federal government has frozen its funding of the organization.

Big-name sponsors – including Telus and Canadian Tire – followed suit, leaving the ice at Rogers Place free of advertising and the surrounding boards without the usual logos.

“Our focus is to ensure that the players who have been training over the past few months can compete on this important stage – and that the fans can have a positive experience,” said Hockey Canada.

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World Juniors’ apparent apathy amid scandals and low ticket sales

World Juniors’ apparent apathy amid scandals and low ticket sales

Three matches were played on the first day of the tournament, none of which reached 1,000 fans. The biggest draw was a matchup between the USA and Germany, which drew 829 visitors.

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Canada played their first game the following day – a 5-2 win over Latvia – in front of 2,779 spectators. No participation was reported in a fight between Switzerland and Sweden at 12 noon local time on the same day.

The number of spectators grew slowly during the course of the tournament. 5,204 spectators watched Canada’s final group stage game, a 6-3 win over Finland on Monday.

Hockey Canada is one of the organizations likely to suffer financial losses due to disappointing ticket sales.

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“The event’s stakeholders — the (International Ice Hockey Federation), Hockey Canada and the participating federations — all make financial contributions to ensure the event takes place,” Hockey Canada said.

“World Juniors net proceeds will be shared between Hockey Canada, the members of Hockey Canada, the (Canadian Hockey League), and the IIHF.”

More than 1,500 tickets were available on Ticketmaster on Tuesday for Canada’s quarter-final game against Switzerland on Wednesday.

The 2022 tournament was originally scheduled to be played in December in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alta, but rising COVID-19 cases among players and officials forced the games to be lost after just four days.

© 2022 The Canadian Press Hockey Canada says summer, “understandable test” behind small World Juniors crowds


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