Image: Scott Wiggins
Image: Scott Wiggins

Zero Covid-19 cases recorded at 2021 Elite Series

The 2021 Elite Series was completed without any confirmed cases of the coronavirus, an Elite Ice Hockey League spokesperson has announced.

Following the return of the Elite Series’ overseas players, it was announced that the tournament had been completed without any detected cases, with tests carried out daily throughout the tournament.

Members of the Elite Series ‘bubble’ – including players, coaches, support staff, and league officials – completed lateral flow tests before arriving at the Motorpoint Arena each morning, with off-ice officials also tested before each game.

The EIHL has confirmed that there were positive lateral flow tests during the Elite Series, with no players subsequently testing positive for the virus upon leaving the United Kingdom.

Players returning to Norway, for example, were required to take a lateral flow test 24 hours before departure in addition to a 72-hour PCR test. 

“We owe a great deal of thanks to IHUK’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Matt Robins, for all of his support in putting the event together from the medical side,” explained Head of Hockey Operations Mike Hicks. 

“He was crucial in designing our testing strategy which has ultimately proved to be entirely successful.

“Furthermore, we are also very grateful to everyone involved in the Elite Series for following our Covid-19 protocol – from players, coaches and support staff to off-ice officials, each team’s Covid-19 Officer, arena staff and suppliers. 

“Everyone complying fully with the rules put in place ensured we were able to run not only a successful event, but a safe one.”


Analysis:

Heading into the Elite Series, several questions loomed large over the organisers’ heads. 

Would the Elite Series live up to the EIHL-standard of ice hockey? It did. 

Would teams, players, and fans take the Elite Series seriously? They did, as Ben Bowns robustly argued on social media following the tournament. 

Would the Elite League’s coronavirus mitigation measures work? Evidently, yes. 

For me, the final point deserves a tonne of praise.

Flying 32 ice hockey players into the country from North America and mainland Europe in the middle of a pandemic poses obvious challenges. And, thankfully, the EIHL passed those challenges with flying colours. 

If some Covid mitigation measures are required for the start of next season, the EIHL should take confidence from the fact that it managed the Elite Series well. 

The return of spectators will represent a new challenge – but there’s no reason to believe that the Elite League can’t pull it off. 

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