The IIHF has unanimously decided to initiate another round of cancellations to its calendar for the 2020-21 season. The decision was made after recommendations from the IIHF COVID-19 expert group.
Due to the continuing #covid19 pandemic with restrictions and concerns for hosts and participants, the IIHF Council had to cancel most of its men’s, women’s and men’s U18 events scheduled in spring and further postpone the women’s Olympic Qualification. https://t.co/KyWZD3fTVp
— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) November 18, 2020
IIHF Announces More Cancellations
The announcement comes after the IIHF cancelled the 2020 World Ice Hockey Championships back in March. The IIHF has cancelled all its tournaments for the 2020-21 season, with a few exceptions. The 2021 Men’s World Championships, the 2021 Women’s World Championships, 2021 men’s World Junior Championships, and the 2021 men’s under 18 World Championships are all still scheduled as of now. In all, 18 tournaments have been cancelled with this announcement. In total, the IIHF has cancelled 28 tournaments since the pandemic began.
The IIHF took the recommendation from their COVI-19 expert group. The major concerns were the ability of the event hosts to operate a tournament in a safe environment.
In addition to the report provided by the COVID-19 expert group, the IIHF event department conducted its own meetings with participating teams and organizers. The meetings discussed the viability to hold the tournaments. While desire to play these tournaments is high, the meetings ended with some key takeaways that supported the COVID expert group.
- Because of local government rules or travel restrictions for participating teams the organization of championships is currently impossible
- Few organizers 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
The IIHF COVID expert group will reconvene in January to review the status of the remaining tournaments. The decision to cancel the tournaments was not an easy one. IIHF president Rene Fasel said, “As much as we regret to have to take this decision, this is about survival and the protection of our members.”
The cancellations also stretched to the Olympic games. All phases of the Women’s Olympic qualifying has been impacted by the pandemic. The pre-qualification tournament has already been postponed until August 2021, while the second round of pre-qualification has been moved to October 2021. The final qualification has been pushed to November of 2021, pending Olympic approval. As of now, the Men’s qualification has not been impacted. It is scheduled to take place in August 2021.