After a COVID-19 postponement last year, organizers are aiming for the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship to go ahead in May in Truro and Halifax.
The IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation) posted a press release on its website about the tentative May 6 to 16 event. All IIHF stakeholders approved the new dates, while teams committed to their participation “despite the difficult circumstances and challenges for ice hockey and international travel,” says the announcement.
For the event to proceed, federal and provincial authorities have to give final approval. So far, officials haven’t approved exemptions to federal quarantine rules.
The post says Hockey Canada and the host organizing committee are working with government officials and medical experts in the province to bring forth a medical plan ensuring the safety of all Canadians, players, coaches and staff.
“We know how important this event is in the women’s ice hockey calendar, especially considering that we could not have a tournament last season and now with the Olympics on the horizon,” IIHF president René Fasel says in the post.
Halifax and Truro were originally set to host the 2020 championships. Pandemic restrictions caused a postponement. Now, organizers are encouraged by Nova Scotia’s active COVID-19 case rate of less than four per 100,000 people.
Event participants travelling to Nova Scotia will have to adhere to the quarantine and COVID-19 testing process prior to travel to Canada. If the event is approved to proceed, it will follow the province’s mandated protocols, says the IIHF, including regular testing, quarantine, masking and physical distancing.
Scott Smith, president and chief operating officer of Hockey Canada, promises organizers will have “strict support” from participating federations in relation to the health and safety plan of COVID-19 protocols.
“Hosting a successful women’s world championship this season means ensuring the health and safety of everyone involved, which continues to be our top priority,” he says. “Hockey Canada and the host organizing committee are committed to working with the appropriate health authorities and listening to the direction of medical experts to build a safe and strong hosting plan.”
Some groups have raised concerns about the costs of operating the tournament, and the IIHF pledged an increase in financial support to help reduce financial burden for the organizer due to higher costs and decreased ticket revenues. The support will also subsidize higher travel and accommodation costs for teams.
The event would see a two-tiered preliminary round. Halifax would host Group A with teams from the United States, Canada, Finland, Russia and Switzerland. Group B teams (Japan, Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark and Hungary) would play its preliminary games in Truro.
If the event proceeds, organizers hope some (although far fewer than usual) fans will be able to attend games.
When the pandemic broke out, all IIHF tournaments scheduled for the spring of 2020 were cancelled. This would be the last opportunity for participating teams to play at the top level before the 2022 Olympics.