Another Olympic hockey team plays in medical masks against Russian rivals (PHOTOS)
Finland’s women’s hockey team wore medical masks for their Beijing group stage match against the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) team on Tuesday, after Canada had done the same one day earlier.
The Finnish team announced on social media ahead of the meeting with the ROC at the National Indoor Stadium that their players would be donning face coverings, sharing a picture and writing: “With that look today… [Finland] faces the ROC team of Russian players.”
When the action started the Finnish players were masked under their helmets while their Russian opponents did not choose to take the measure.
The scenes came after controversy in Beijing on Monday, when the Canada versus ROC clash was delayed by more than an hour.
The Canadian team reportedly refused to take to the ice while they had not received the results of the ROC team’s Covid tests taken earlier in the day.
In an apparent compromise, both teams started the match in masks. When the delayed results finally arrived ahead of the third period and were negative, the ROC team and match officials removed their face coverings, although the Canadians kept them on for the entire match.
It was announced on Tuesday by Russian coach Evgeny Bobariko that forward Polina Bolgareva had tested positive for Covid despite her initial result being negative before she played against Canada.
The ROC team had already been hit with six Covid cases before the start of the tournament last week, and a further three before they played Canada.
The Russian team listed five players – including Bolgareva – as sidelined for the match with Finland.
Some members of the ROC team had spoken after the game against Canada about their difficulty in playing in the masks, with officials at the Olympics and the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) saying they would aim to avoid similar scenes in future.
Tuesday’s match with Finland is the two teams’ last of the group stage in Beijing.
Each of the five teams in Group A – including Switzerland, the USA and Canada – is guaranteed a quarterfinal spot due to their world rankings. They will be joined by three teams from Group B in the last eight.
The tournament favorites are defending champions the USA and Canada, while the ROC team and Finland are seen as among the teams who could battle it out for bronze.