Men's hockey worlds cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic

The International Ice Hockey Federation Council on Saturday confirmed the cancellation of the men's world championship, scheduled to begin May 8 in Switzerland, due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Women's tournament slated for Nova Scotia was called off 2 weeks ago

The International Ice Hockey Federation on Saturday announced the cancellation of the men's world championship, scheduled to begin May 8 in Switzerland, due to the coronavirus outbreak. (Vladimir Simicek/AFP via Getty Images/File)

The International Ice Hockey Federation announced Saturday it was cancelling the 2020 world championship in Switzerland due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

This year's tournament was scheduled to take place in Zurich and Lausanne from May 8-24.

"This is a harsh reality to face for the international ice hockey family, but one that we must accept," said IIHF president René Fasel. "The coronavirus is a global problem and requires major efforts by government bodies to combat its spread.

The annual event routinely features NHL players from teams not competing in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

"The IIHF must do all it can to support this fight. We have to set sport aside for now and support both the government bodies and the ice hockey family," Fasel said.

Participating teams were due to arrive in Switzerland in May for the IIHF annual congress. The IIHF said that congress is postponed until further notice.

The IIHF also said there are "obviously no possibilities to relocate the 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship to another country."

"The potential scenario of a postponement of the World Championship in Switzerland to another year is a matter that must be discussed within the congress given the fact that the host countries for the forthcoming IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship are fixed until Year 2025," the release said. "Therefore, such a decision will not be forthcoming until congress is next in session."

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Canada won silver medal in 2019

Two weeks ago, the IIHF cancelled the 10-country women's world tournament scheduled for March 31 to April 10 in Halifax and Truro, N.S., because of concerns over the spread of the virus. 

It assured Canada the 2021 tourney would be held in Nova Scotia, even though Russia was scheduled to host it next year.

The Canadian men settled for their second world silver medal in three years on May 26, 2019, losing 3-1 to Finland, which won its first title since 2011. Russia beat the Czech Republic 3-2 in a shootout for bronze.

Recent medallists

2019 — Finland, Canada, Russia

2018 — Sweden, Switzerland, U.S.

2017 — Sweden, Canada, Russia

2016 — Canada, Finland, Russia

2015 — Canada, Russia, U.S.

Finland iced an unheralded roster that featured only two players who spent any time in the NHL during the 2018-19 season. Finland opened its tournament by handing the Canadians their only loss of the preliminary round and ultimately finished second in the Group A standings behind Canada.

Canada is the only team to have reached the semifinal at the world championship for the last five straight years. The Canadians won gold in 2015 and 2016 and silver in 2017 before finishing fourth in 2018.

With files from The Canadian Press