National Sports

Women's world ice hockey event now planned for Aug. 20-31

(AFP)

This year’s Women’s World Ice Hockey Championship, planned for Canada but postponed due to Covid-19 issues, will be played in August, the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) said Friday.

Following a conference call Thursday with the participating teams, the IIHF Council agreed in principle Friday to stage the event August 20-31 at a venue yet to be determined.

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Five-time defending champion United States, Canada, Russia, Switzerland, Finland, Germany, Denmark, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Japan are set to compete.

The women’s worlds were to have been played in Halifax and Truro, Nova Scotia, from May 6-16 before provincial authorities cancelled the tournament last week over Covid-19 concerns.

Hockey Canada and the IIHF began looking for a way to play the event, the final major tuneup for next February’s Beijing Winter Olympic tournament, and found dates that would work.

“The players, the teams, Hockey Canada, and the IIHF have been placed in a difficult position due to the sudden cancellation,” IIHF president Rene Fasel said. “But this is not an excuse to operate this tournament as a half-measure.

“We needed a range of dates that can work for the teams and also would allow for comprehensive broadcast coverage as well as a chance for spectators to be able to attend the games.”

Fasel said some teams wanted the event in September but the earlier time frame was selected because four teams involved — Denmark, Germany, Hungary and the Czechs — are involved in Beijing Olympic qualifying tournaments in November.

The other six teams at worlds and host China are already set for the Olympic field in Beijing.

“We need to respect as much as possible the start of various women’s leagues around the world, and also recognize the needs of the four teams that must prepare for the women’s Olympic qualification tournament in November,” Fasel said.

“We passed an important first milestone by finding the optimal dates to hold this event and now will proceed to the next stage and choose a suitable venue.”

Hockey Canada and the IIHF will evaluate potential venues with a new host expected to be selected “in the coming weeks,” according to the IIHF.

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