Canada's junior women's field hockey team could be headed home from South Africa next week.
The under-21 team has been waiting to travel home from Potchefstroom since the Junior World Cup there was cancelled due to concern about the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.
Field Hockey Canada said on its website that the team has secured flights home from Johannesburg next Wednesday.
"(We) know things can change in either direction very quickly. Field Hockey is remaining optimistic that this will be the case and looking forward to travelling home," the website post said.
The Junior World Cup was scheduled for Dec. 5-17, but cancelled last Thursday. Because of the Omicron variant, most commercial flights in and out of South Africa were suspended, leaving the players and staff without immediate travel home. The team is being housed at North-West University in Potchefstroom, about 120 kilometres southwest of Johannesburg.
"The health, safety and well-being of our athletes and staff is the first priority. I’m happy to report that everyone is healthy and safe and trying to make the best out of a challenging situation," said Susan Ahrens, CEO of Field Hockey Canada. “We are working with government representatives and our travel partners at Boulevard Travel to find the fastest and safest way to bring the players home as soon as possible."
Canada was the top-ranked team from the Pan Americas in the World Cup after winning the Junior Pan American Championships in Chile in August.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2021.
The Canadian Press