Canadian junior athletes stuck in South Africa book new flight home

Canada's junior women's field hockey team has a tentative flight home booked after they became stranded in South Africa before a tournament.

The under-21 team arrived in the country in late November to take part in the field hockey Junior World Cup. However, the tournament was cancelled soon after the team arrived and flights to Canada from some southern African countries were halted due to the rise of the Omicron COVID-19 variant across the globe.

On Wednesday, Field Hockey Canada said the team would no longer be stuck in limbo and a flight had been arranged out of Johannesburg for Dec. 8.

"We understand that the situation with Omicron is fluid and things can change quickly," said Kevin Underhill, communications manager for Field Hockey Canada.

However, Underhill says the organization is "optimistic" that players and staff will be travelling back to Canada next week.

One player's mom, Sandra Sajko, told CTV News that she was relieved the team had a flight booked.

Sajko says that Field Hockey Canada has been very responsive to the situation and that the organization is looking for earlier flights if available. She believes that the current scheduled flight will transfer through Germany since direct flights to Canada are still barred.

Exact rules for testing and quarantining before and after the trip have not been determined yet, according to Field Hockey Canada.

"Rules are rapidly changing and we're working daily with the Canadian government and our travel partners at Boulevard Travel to make sure that we are following all the rules and regulations," said Underhill.