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Breaking News: IIHF has announced more cancellations of tournaments

The IIHF Council decided unanimously today to initiate another series of tournament cancellations for the 2020-21 season, following recommendations of the IIHF COVID-19 Expert Group.

With the exception of the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship, the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship and the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship, all 2020-21 tournaments in the lower division men’s senior, women’s senior, and men’s U18 categories have been cancelled.

Following the IIHF Council decision, the following 2020/21 IIHF World Championship tournaments have been cancelled:

  • 2021 IIHF ICE HOCKEY WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP Division I, Group A
    9 – 15 May 2021 SLOVENIA, Ljubljana
  • 2021 IIHF ICE HOCKEY WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP Division I, Group B
    26 Apr – 02 May 2021 – POLAND, Katowice
  • 2021 IIHF ICE HOCKEY WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP Division II, Group A
    10 – 16 Apr 2021 – CHINA, Beijing
  • 2021 IIHF ICE HOCKEY WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP Division II, Group B
    18 – 24 Apr 2021 – ICELAND, Reykjavik
  • 2021 IIHF ICE HOCKEY WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP Division III, Group A
    18 – 24 Apr 2021 – LUXEMBOURG, Kockelscheuer
  • 2021 IIHF ICE HOCKEY WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP Division III, Group B
    19 – 22 Apr 2021 – SOUTH AFRICA, Cape Town
  • 2021 IIHF ICE HOCKEY WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP Division IV
    8 – 14 Mar 2021 – KYRGYZSTAN, Bishkek
  • 2021 IIHF ICE HOCKEY WOMEN’S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP Division I, Group A
    18-24 April 2021 – FRANCE, Angers
  • 2021 IIHF ICE HOCKEY WOMEN’S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP Division I, Group B
    8-14 Apr 2021 – CHINA, Beijing
  • 2021 IIHF ICE HOCKEY WOMEN’S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP Division II, Group A
    10 – 16 Apr 2021 – SPAIN, Jaca
  • 2021 IIHF ICE HOCKEY WOMEN’S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP Division II, Group B
    7 – 13 Mar 2021 – CROATIA, Zagreb
  • 2021 IIHF ICE HOCKEY WOMEN’S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP Division III
    15 – 21 Mar 2021 – LITHUANIA, Kaunas
  • 2021 IIHF ICE HOCKEY U18 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP Division I, Group A
    5 – 11 Apr 2021 – SLOVAKIA, Spisska Nova Ves
  • 2021 IIHF ICE HOCKEY U18 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP Division I, Group B
    18 – 25 Apr 2021 – ITALY, Asiago
  • 2021 IIHF ICE HOCKEY U18 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP Division II, Group A
    4 – 10 Apr 2021 – ESTONIA, Tallinn
  • 2021 IIHF ICE HOCKEY U18 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP Division II, Group B
    21 – 27 Mar 2021 – BULGARIA, Sofia
  • 2021 IIHF ICE HOCKEY U18 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP Division III, Group A
    29 Mar – 04 Apr 2021 – TURKEY, Istanbul
  • 2021 IIHF ICE HOCKEY U18 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP Division III, Group B
    28 Mar – 03 Apr 2021 – LUXEMBOURG, Kockelscheuer

In all, 18 tournaments will be impacted by the cancellations, bringing the total number of cancelled tournaments in the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship program to 28.

In addition to the report produced by the COVID-19 Expert Group, last week the IIHF Event Department conducted championship meetings of all remaining events. While the motivation to play remains high, the tournament organizers and participating teams provided some key takeaways that supplemented the Expert Group’s report.

  • Because of local government rules or travel restrictions for participating teams the organisation of championships is currently impossible
  • Few organisers could present sufficient implementation of the COVID-19 rules and how to host the tournaments safely
  • A potential quarantine before and after the tournament is for many Member National Associations (MNAs) a reason to withdraw, as players must be able to fulfil work or job duties
  • The ongoing travel restrictions and the financial risk due to quarantine is not sustainable for most of the MNAs
  • In most of the U18 divisions, teams are having difficulties convincing parents for sending players to the Championship
  • If promotion and/or relegation is not possible due to other cancellations, MNAs do not wish for their tournament to be played

“During the last Council meeting we agreed that to require each tournament host to operate a competition ’bubble‘ was not a practical request for most organizers outside of the top divisions,” said IIHF President René Fasel. “The capability of these organizers to hold a tournament has been reduced significantly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the IIHF does not have the resources necessary to properly supervise the safe operation of these tournaments.”

“What we can do is to shield these tournament organizers and the participating teams from potentially devastating financial losses, by taking the unpleasant but necessary step to initiate these cancellations now before travel plans and arena preparations begin.”

“As much as we regret to have to take this decision, this is about survival and the protection of our members.”

The IIHF Council and the COVID-19 Expert Group will reconvene in January 2021 to review the status of the next two upcoming tournaments after the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship: the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship and the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey Men’s U18 World Championship.

The Women’s Olympic Pre-Qualification tournament has already been postponed and will be scheduled to play in August 2021, while Round 2 of the Women’s Olympic Pre-Qualification will be moved to October 2021. The Final Olympic Qualification tournament, initially scheduled to take place in August, will be moved to November, pending confirmation from the International Olympic Committee.

The Men’s Olympic Final Qualification, remains on-schedule to take place from 26-29 August 2021.

Igor Burdetskiy

Igor Burdetskiy

Founder, Editor-in-Chief, & CEO at Hooked on Hockey Magazine
I grew up playing Ball and Roller Hockey day and night somewhat religiously throughout elementary and middle school. The two don't compare though when I lace up the skates and hit the ice. I live and breathe hockey beyond the perspective of "it's just a game" and I will gladly talk hockey for hours with anyone. Hockey is more than just a lifestyle, it's a culture of passionate people who make memories every time the puck is dropped. Hockey has not only helped me get through some of the hardest times in life but has created some of the best memories to date. Want to talk hockey with me? Shoot me an email: iburdetskiy@hookedonhockey.com and let's talk some hockey!
Igor Burdetskiy
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