Canada's women's junior field hockey team is scheduled to arrive home on Thursday after being stranded in South Africa due to the new COVID-19 variant.
The team took off from Johannesburg on Wednesday, and was on a flight through Frankfurt, Germany.
The women were in Potchestroom, about 120 kilometres southwest of Johannesburg, for the junior World Cup, Dec. 5-17, but the event was cancelled due to travel restrictions around the Omicron variant leaving the Canadians without immediate flights home.
Field Hockey Canada received a third-country COVID-19 testing exemption from the federal government, which applies to Canadians returning home.
Players and staff were tested in South Africa and will be tested immediately upon arrival in Canada.
The team arrived in South Africa on Nov. 24 for the World Cup, clinching their berth by winning the Pan American championships last summer in Chile.
"Despite the heartbreaking news of the junior World Cup’s postponement, the athletes continued to train at the North-West University staging field," Field Hockey Canada said in a statement. "Many of the team members are post-secondary students and were provided with study time and rest time. We are extremely proud and thankful for how our athletes and staff handled a most challenging situation. "Thank you to the governmental support, our staff, parents, and community who have rallied together in what has been a challenging time towards this successful outcome. We are looking forward to having our junior national team back on home soil."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 8, 2021.
The Canadian Press