Finland's players competed in masks against the ROC who were maskless ©Getty Images

Finland decided to follow Canada in wearing masks in their women’s ice hockey match against the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) over COVID-19 safety concerns at the Winter Olympics here.

The ROC team were hit by a series of positive cases prior to the tournament and their situation continues to be a cause for concern among opponents.

Uncertainty remains rife over the exact number of players that have been contracted by COVID-19 within the ROC squad who continue to compete in the preliminary round.

Finland defeated the ROC 5-0 yesterday but played the entire match wearing masks, with the Finnish Olympic Committee opting to make the move after "discussing the matter with the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF)".

"We just wanted to make sure that everyone was healthy,” said Finnish head coach Juuso Toivola.

"The players were satisfied that they played in masks."

ROC player Angelina Goncharenko insisted her side were unfazed by Finland’s decision.

"Both we and they passed negative tests," Goncharenko told Russia's official state news agency TASS.

"These are their problems."

On Monday (February 7), the ROC’s meeting with Canada in Group A was delayed and players were forced to wear masks.

IIHF President Luc Tardif confirmed that both teams agreed to play in masks following a delay in receiving the COVID-19 test results of the ROC team.

One Canadian player, Emily Clark, was also pulled from the fixture after participating in warm-ups because of an inconclusive test result.

ROC player Angelina Goncharenk, who previously tested positive for COVID-19, played against Finland yesterday ©Getty Images
ROC player Angelina Goncharenk, who previously tested positive for COVID-19, played against Finland yesterday ©Getty Images

Beijing 2022 officials cited "safety and security concerns" as the reason for the decision to push the fixture back by more than an hour.

Once the COVID-19 test results were presented to both teams at the end of the second period, the ROC team opt to ditch the masks whereas Canada kept them on as they went on to win 6-1.

Former IIHF President René Fasel told TASS that he was "very surprised" when he saw players complete in masks, describing the situation as "nonsense".

Goncharenko was among six players to test positive for COVID-19 on the eve of the tournament, forcing her to miss the opener against Switzerland.

She returned to face the United States before missing the clash with Canada but was available to face Finland.

"There was a negative test before the game with the USA, but maybe something was mixed up, and a positive test came before the match with the Canadians," Goncharenko told TASS.

"I passed the test in the morning and in the evening there was a negative result, but the coaches did not take risks and did not put me on the game."

Diana Farkhutdinova, Olga Sosina, Yekaterina Nikolayeva, Liana Ganeyeva and Lyudmila Belyakova were confirmed as testing positive before to the ROC’s opening match against Switzerland.

It was later reported that Victoria Kulishova and Elena Dergacheva also tested positive for COVID-19.

Mark Adams, spokesperson for the International Olympic Committee, claimed he was unable to give an exact figure of how many positive coronavirus cases were within the ROC side.

"I am not sure whether we are allowed to tell you about individual cases," said Adams.

"I don’t have the figure at hand."

The ROC are due to face Switzerland in the quarter-finals on Saturday (February 12).