Ice hockey World Championships canceled over coronavirus concerns

The Finnish women will now focus on next year's World Championship tournament, and qualifications for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

File picture showing empty ice hockey net / Credit: IIHF

The International Ice Hockey Federation IIHF has canceled the upcoming Women’s World Championships due to the spread of Covid-19 coronavirus.

The tournament, with the Finnish national team participating, was due to take place later this month in Canada.

The host cities of Halifax and Truro will now host next year’s championships instead.

“It was not an easy decision to make, as we were greatly looking forward to hosting this tournament in Canada. Nevertheless, the decision has been made due to safety concerns for the well-being of players, officials, and spectators” says IIHF President René Fasel.

“Ultimately the IIHF Council feels that there has not been enough of an improvement to the coronavirus situation to allow us to safely host a 10-team international tournament within this timeframe. We look forward to coming to Canada in 2021” he explains.

The canceled tournament was supposed to finalise the seeds for the 2022 Winter Olympics qualifications, and the IIHF says it will now have to look at the whole schedule and figure out a solution to that issues.

“Cancellation of the Women’s World Championships is, of course, a pity, but the health and safety of players is always a matter of priority” says Harri Nummela, Chairman of the Finnish Ice Hockey Federation.

Finland’s Noora Räty stops a shot on goal in the ice hockey World Championships in Espoo, 14th April 2019 / Credit: IIHF

The 2019 World Championships were held in Espoo, and the Finnish women claimed silver, losing narrowly in the gold match game 2-1 against the US team.

“The games would have been played in Canada’s ‘hockey hometown’, where the event is of great interest. Especially for first-timers the experience would surely have been quite big […] that means the team is now getting ready for next year’s World Championships and the 2022 Olympics” Nummela explains.

So far there’s no impact from Covid-19 coronavirus on either the u18 World Championships taking place in the USA in April; or the men’s World Championship which is still scheduled to take place in the Swiss cities of Zurich and Lausanne in May – but a decision will be taken later this month when the IIHF meets again.

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