All IIHF stakeholders approved the new tournament dates in a recent call and all teams committed to their participation despite the difficult circumstances and challenges for ice hockey and international travel posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
To ensure a safe environment for the tournament’s operation, the IIHF, tournament host Hockey Canada, and the nine other participating IIHF member national associations held virtual meetings to evaluate the capabilities of teams to travel for the tournament. Meanwhile, the host committee has been working with several government departments at federal and provincial level to ensure a safe environment for players and staff.
Final approvals for Nova Scotia to host the Championship have not been received by Federal or Provincial Health Authorities, nor has any exemptions to the federal quarantine act been approved. Hockey Canada and the Host Organizing Committee continue to work with government officials and medical experts in the Province of Nova Scotia, as well as the Canadian government, to develop and build a medical plan that will ensure the safety of all Canadians and the participating players, coaches, and staff.
During a recent call with the participating teams, the IIHF pledged to increase its financial support for the tournament, in order to reduce the financial burden for the organizer due to higher costs and decreased ticket revenues as well as to subsidize the higher travel and accommodation costs for the teams.
“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,” said IIHF President René Fasel. “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.”
It is anticipated that a limited number of fans may be able to attend games in Halifax and Truro. The exact capacity will be known closer to the tournament and will be used primarily to honour existing ticket commitments.
It will be the first top-level IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship since 2019 due to the cancellation of all IIHF tournaments scheduled in the spring of 2020 when the pandemic broke out – and it will be the last opportunity for the participating teams to play at that level prior to the 2022 Olympic Winter Games.
Originally this year’s hosts Halifax and Truro were scheduled to host the 2020 edition. 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. There is currently an active case rate in Nova Scotia of under 4 per 100,000 inhabitants.
In order to eliminate any negative impact on the epidemiological situation and health care system in the province, participants travelling to the province will have to go through a thorough quarantine and COVID-19 testing process prior to travel to Canada. The tournament will be operated in accordance with Nova Scotia Government mandated protocols which will include but not be limited to regular COVID-19 testing, quarantine, masking and physical distancing.
“Hockey Canada 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,” said Scott Smith, president and chief operating officer of Hockey Canada. “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. 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.”
In the two-tiered preliminary round, the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax will host Group A with the teams from the United States, Canada, Finland, Russia, and Switzerland. Group B will take place at Rath Eastlink Community Centre in Truro with Japan, the Czech Republic, Germany as well as Denmark and Hungary, the two teams promoted in 2019. The quarter-finals will consist of the Group A teams and the top-3 teams from Group B.
The 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship will be the eighth edition to be held in Canada. Halifax previously hosted the 2004 Women’s Worlds, and in men’s hockey hosted the 2008 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship and the 2003 IIHF World Junior Championship.