Women's world hockey championship in Nova Scotia pushed to May
IIHF hopes limited number of fans may be able to attend 9 team tournament
The International Ice Hockey Federation has confirmed the postponement of the women's world hockey championship in Nova Scotia to May 6-16.
The tournament was originally scheduled for April 7-17 in Halifax and Truro, but the provincial and federal governments have yet to approve hosting the tournament amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and no quarantine exemptions have been granted.
The 2020 world championship in the same communities was cancelled because of the pandemic.
The nine visiting countries have all said they'll participate in a May tournament, according to the IIHF, which is kicking in more money because of decreased ticket revenues and the higher costs of travel and accommodation.
"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 Rene Fasel said Thursday in a statement.
"Our member national associations expressed concerns over the associated costs that come with operating a tournament in the current global environment, and I am glad we were able fill the gap and ensure the women's world championship can take place with all 10 teams."
The IIHF says a limited number of fans may be able to attend games.
"Going to Nova Scotia, the world's best national teams in women's ice hockey will play in a region that is one of the least affected by the pandemic among the big hockey nations," the IIHF said.
"There is currently an active case rate in Nova Scotia of under four per 100,000 inhabitants."
Canada didn't reach the final for the first time in the history of the women's world championship in 2019, and earned bronze in Espoo, Finland.
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The Canadian women's team has played just five international games since then, all against the United States.
Alberta's government approved Hockey Canada's plans to host the world junior men's hockey championship Dec. 25 to Jan. 5 in Edmonton.
A champion was crowned, although some players missed games because of positive tests for the virus and extended quarantines upon arrival.
"Our organization knows it will have strict support from all participating federations as it relates to adhering to the final health and safety plan that will focus on quarantining, COVID-19 testing, single-room isolation, masking, proper hygiene and social distancing," Hockey Canada president and chief operating officer Scott Smith said in a statement.
"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.
"We understand the disappointment of having the event cancelled last spring and delaying the start of the IIHF women's world championship this year, but we know the extra time to prepare will help us provide a world-class experience for the participants while maintaining the health and safety of all participants and the community at large."
The Canadian women's team is currently in Halifax for a 35-player camp concluding Sunday.
"The cancellation of the 2020 IIHF women's world championship was very difficult for our athletes, coaches and staff, and although the 2021 event is scheduled to start later than usual, our team is grateful to the IIHF and Hockey Canada for their commitment to hosting a world championship this season under difficult circumstances," said Gina Kingsbury, Hockey Canada's director of national teams.
"This event is critical for our preparations for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games, and we look forward to competing for a gold medal."