It was announced today that the 2021 IIHF World Championships will be moved due to safety and security reasons. They are determining a new location currently, however, it is yet to be announced. The 2021 IIHF World Championships were originally supposed to be held in Minsk, Belarus.
— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) January 18, 2021
2021 IIHF World Championships
A statement was released by the IIHF today that cited “the growing safety and security concerns related to both the rising political unrest and COVID-19″ as a reason to move locations. It is a delicate issue and a very tough time in all areas of the world. So, it makes sense the IIHF wants to be as careful as they possibly can. They didn’t list other areas they were considering yet. However, they did mention that Latvia will be also considered as this was a joint bid. It was supposed to be split between Belarus and Latvia. Overall, the Belarus pull seems to be based on political unrest as the IIHF cited it more than once.
It will be interesting to see what other locations are considered. As well, if there will be fans when they do come back. Some nations are doing better than others when considering COIVD-19. However, this event is one that fans from around the world travel to. It might be hard to justify that this year if COVID is still a pressing issue come tournament time.
It seems likely that countries such as Sweden and Finland may be considered. This tournament is almost always hosted in Europe, mostly because NHL Playoffs are at the same time. Putting it in North America likely wouldn’t see the same attendance. The 2022 Worlds are supposed to be held in Finland. Depending on the fan situation this year it’s possible they host back-to-back tournaments. It wouldn’t be the only time next year it happens as Edmonton is set to host the World Juniors again after the bubble there this year.
Ultimately, it seems for the best to pull from Belarus right now. However, one of the beautiful things about hosting this tournament in smaller hockey nations is seeing how passionate their fans are. Hopefully, we can still see a country like Latvia host in the near future.