We hope this letter finds you safe and in good health during this difficult time.
To all the teams, players, and officials who have been impacted by the news of the Nova Scotia government’s decision to cancel the 2021 IHF Ice Hockey Women’s’ World Championship, on behalf of the IIHF I would like to extend my sincerest sympathies for all of you that were looking forward to taking part in this tournament.
While we must accept this decision, the IIHF is not in agreement with the government’s position insofar as we had done everything necessary to install the proper COVID-19 safety precautions in place and remained in close communication with the relevant government and health authorities and with Hockey Canada throughout the preparation stage. As both the IIHF and Hockey Canada had assurances that this event was going to proceed a few days before the cancellation announcement, this news was completely unexpected.
There have been some requests for an explanation as to why the IIHF did not have a contingency plan in place should the tournament be cancelled. Aside from the fact that up until Wednesday the IIHF had no reason to believe that the province of Nova Scotia would cancel the tournament in Halifax and Truro based on the ongoing discussions and tournament preparation, the logistics of keeping a venue as a “backup” is not a workable solution. For instance, keeping spare hotels for exclusive use for the event booked, staff and two arenas that are up to the IIHF standard of a ten-team World Championship event – in an entirely different province or country in case of a cancellation in the main host region – is just not possible from an expense and logistical perspective.
In addition, COVID-19 safety precautions necessitate significant coordination with various health and safety authorities to understand local rules and establish quarantine requirements and safety protocols, as well with regional and national governments due to existing travel bans and immigration restrictions in place. In the case of the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship, the decision to move venues was made months in advance of the beginning of the event. If there was a decision to cancel the current venue in Frisco/Plano, or the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Riga, Latvia, the IIHF would not be able to immediately switch to a new venue and would be in the same situation it is currently facing with the Women’s World Championship.
At the very least we were fortunate to have been able to receive the news and relay it to the teams prior to their departure, in some cases just hours before they were to board their planes, though obviously this is of little consolation to you and to your players. We know this news must have come as a shock to them especially, as they have not had the chance to take part in an international tournament since 2019 and were no doubt looking forward to getting back on the ice after a tough year. Again, we completely sympathize with and share their disappointment, and for this reason we are 100% committed to making sure they can play the Women’s World Championship as soon as possible within the next few months.
Therefore, I wish in this letter to communicate clearly to you our desire to postpone this event to a new date, one that would make it possible for all teams to participate and give enough time for a host to make the necessary preparations. In addition to giving the best female ice hockey players in the world a chance to compete together, we also know how important this event to our Member National Associations especially on the eve of an Olympic year. While it is not possible to immediately reschedule to a new date and venue as we must again go through the COVID-19 safety protocol preparation and have organizational discussions with Hockey Canada, we will do everything to ensure that this event can be held as early as summer 2021.
We thank you for your understanding and will keep you informed as we work through this process.