The start of the women’s hockey preliminary-round game between Canada and Russia on Monday was delayed 65 minutes before being played with both teams wearing N95 masks, a first at the Beijing Winter Olympics.

Canada initially declined to leave the locker room because COVID-19 tests taken earlier in the day by the Russian athletes had not yet been processed.

The International Ice Hockey Federation eventually reached a compromise to have players from both teams wear masks.

Forward Oxana Bratisheva said through a team interpreter that the Russian team was initially told the game would be postponed before being told it would proceed an hour late.


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The Russian players eventually were allowed to remove their masks at the start of the third period after the test results showed no one was positive.

The Canadians kept their masks on and won 6-1 to improve to 3-0 for the tournament.

Canada was concerned about Russian players who had previously tested positive for COVID-19. Six members of the Russian squad — including captain Olga Sosina — had been placed in isolation last week after testing positive for the virus and did not play in Russia’s 5-2 opening win against Switzerland on Friday. Those players have since come out of isolation, and Russia fielded 21 players against Team USA on Saturday in a 5-0 loss.

Canada held out forward Emily Clark for precautionary reasons after her test result came back inconclusive.

The masks did not seem to hurt the Canadians’ performance, as they jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead, with Sarah Nurse and Sarah Fillier scoring 20 seconds apart.

The game was originally scheduled to begin at 12:10 p.m. local time. Both teams had finished their warm-ups, but the Canadians stayed in their locker room rather than coming out for puck drop.

The Russian players and the officials looked confused as they waited for the Canadian team to arrive. For the first few minutes, the Russian players sat by the bleachers, after which they took laps on the ice. The officials were heard on the broadcast telling the Russian players that they were going into Team Canada’s locker room to get an update.

The Russian team eventually returned to its locker room, before both teams returned to the ice about 50 minutes after the game was scheduled to start.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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