Canada Hockey Gamers Put on Masks, Hinting at Distrust of Russia

Comply with our newest protection of the 2022 Winter Olympics.

BEIJING — The priority manifested most clearly within the masks, those out of the blue worn on the benches, by the referees and, remarkably, by the ladies taking part in Olympic hockey.

The Beijing Video games, cloaked in rhetoric about sportsmanship and shared values and unity eventually week’s opening ceremony, veered abruptly into an exhibition of suspicion on Monday, when uncertainty over the Russian staff’s coronavirus testing led to a 65-minute delay of a sport towards Canada. When the sport lastly started, after a Canadian participant was pulled from her staff’s lineup due to what her coach characterised as an inconclusive take a look at, it did so underneath a well being precaution not often seen throughout elite competitors: Each participant was sporting a masks.

The episode, which the Worldwide Ice Hockey Federation formally attributed to “security and safety issues,” was additionally a glimpse into lingering Western skepticism of a Russian Olympic equipment with an extended document of bending or breaking rules.

Though Canadian officers prevented accusing their Russian counterparts of any misconduct, they’d motive for concern: The Russian squad spent a part of final week in quarantine after a collection of optimistic assessments amongst staff members.

“We needed to guarantee that everybody that was collaborating was wholesome and ensuring we’re decreasing the chance, so we simply determined to put on a masks and delay the sport just a bit bit in order that we might get organized and simply put masks on and it’d be secure,” mentioned Rebecca Johnston, a Canadian ahead. Requested if the Canadians had feared energetic circumstances on the Russian staff, she replied, “I believe we weren’t positive what was occurring.”

Sports activities leagues world wide insist that viral transmission is unlikely throughout competitions, and circumstances immediately linked to video games are regarded as uncommon. Nonetheless, with stringent well being protocols in impact on the Video games, the place the authorities have imposed a so-called bubble to wall off Olympic members from Chinese language society, the Canadians seemingly noticed little room for potential error, particularly for a staff that’s anticipated to contend for the gold medal.

There have been indications that the Russian staff remained affected by the virus. Gamers have been lacking from its bench, and Alexandra Vafina, a Russian ahead, recommended that the staff remained topic to the Olympic protocols for shut contacts, which embody being examined twice a day.

The staff, Vafina mentioned, was “making an attempt to comply with all these strict guidelines and stop any unfold of illness.” One other participant, Anna Shibanova, recommended laboratory delays may need contributed to the delayed arrival of the staff’s newest take a look at outcomes, which arrived after the sport had begun.

Yevgeni Bobariko, the Russian coach, mentioned he was instructed that the Canadian staff requested for each groups to put on masks. He added that he didn’t sense a “shadow of distrust.”

However wariness of Russian groups for one motive or one other is now successfully an Olympic ceremony, with doubts and misgivings commonplace due to Russia’s yearslong reliance on a complicated, state-orchestrated doping operation. In 2019, the World Anti-Doping Company handed Russia a four-year ban from worldwide competitors — arbitrators later reduced the penalty to a largely symbolic two years — although caveats have nonetheless allowed Russian athletes to compete on the Video games and different main occasions.

Monday’s turmoil spilled into public view when the Canadian staff didn’t go away its dressing room to start out the sport as deliberate. The Russian staff, ready on its bench and apparently poised to play, ultimately returned to its locker room.

The groups emerged solely as soon as they reached what seemed to be a fragile, uncommon compromise: The athletes would put on masks, even throughout play.

That plan got here to an finish in the beginning of the third interval, when the Russians returned to the Wukesong Sports activities Middle ice with out face coverings. Natalie Spooner of Canada mentioned she had been instructed that the Russian staff’s take a look at outcomes had come again as damaging. Canada led by 4-1 on the time, however the staff elected to stay masked.

“It was so simple as, ‘We wore it for 40, let’s put on it for the additional 20,” mentioned Troy Ryan, Canada’s coach. “If well being and security is a priority, it doesn’t simply swap.”

Frustration and distrust, although, apparently went each methods. In a tweet that included an emoji of a monkey overlaying its eyes, the Russian Olympic Committee needled the Canadians later within the day over the standing of Emily Clark, the participant who was pulled from the lineup. And a Russian tv station accused the ice hockey federation, which administers the Olympic event, of “unilaterally” altering testing procedures forward of Monday’s sport.

A spokesman mentioned the worldwide federation “didn’t change any of the testing protocols in the course of the event.” In a separate statement, the federation mentioned the sport had been delayed “with a view to make sure full understanding of the groups in regards to the well being and security measures in place.”

The result of Monday’s sport — as soon as it was clear it could occur — was by no means in critical doubt. Canada dominated play and beat the Russian staff, 6-1. It was the second consecutive loss for the Russians, who fell to the United States, 5-0, on Saturday. activities/olympics/canada-masks-olympics.html Canada Hockey Gamers Put on Masks, Hinting at Distrust of Russia

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