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World Junior Men’s hockey championship suffers from poor ticket sales

The recent World Junior Men’s hockey championship in Edmonton, Canada witnessed poor ticket sales due to strange timing, scandal and steep prices. 

The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) 2022 tournament finished on Saturday with Canada winning the gold medal. However, there were not many fans there to witness the victory. The average attendance before the final amounted to just 1,525 per game and Canada averaged 4,400 fans across the first six games. 

IIHF president Luc Tardif said that holding the tournament in the summer presented challenges. The competition was originally opened on December 26, 2021 in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alta, but rising COVID-19 cases among players and officials halted the event after four days. It was rearranged to be played this August. 

Tardif told reporters that the IIHF did not expect high attendances because of the August timing, but other officials have also blamed the steep ticket prices. Tickets are reportedly set by the host country and tickets for the August edition of the championship started at more than C$100 (£65/€77) for most games. 

Tournament chair Henrik Back Nielsen said that the tickets were indeed high but that organisers needed to account for re-doing the 10-team tournament in the summer. Hockey Canada acknowledged multiple reason for lack of interest including its handling of an alleged sexual assault on previous junior men’s team members. 

In a statement, Hockey Canada said: “First, the COVID-19 pandemic delayed this tournament to August. And second, there is understandable scrutiny from Canadians of Hockey Canada and the culture of hockey.”

The absence of Russia, which was banned by the IIHF from competing in hockey competitions due to its invasion of Ukraine, could also have played a part in low ticket sales. Tardif added that Russia’s entry in the tournament in the future will be evaluated year by year. 

Image: Markus Spiske on Unsplash