The meeting was the third held since the new Council was elected during the IIHF Semi-Annual Congress in September 2021.
Olympic venue preparations, status of Chinese men’s team
Among the agenda topics were discussions surrounding the preparation of the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games men’s and women’s ice hockey competitions. The Council was briefed on the progress of preparations of the National Indoor Stadium and Wukesong arenas following the ice hockey test event that took place from 8-13 November 2021.
Using four local men’s college teams playing a 10-game schedule, the venues went through all Olympic game operations and protocols including ceremony rehearsals and test scenarios like video goal judge reviews, coaches’ challenges, and evacuation of injured players. Ice quality/maintenance, boards, and arena lighting were inspected together with medical services, dressing rooms, warm-up facilities, and the movement of athletes to and from the ice.
Following feedback from IIHF and external technical officials concerning the operational capability of the arenas, the test event concluded that both venues are prepared to host the men’s and women’s Olympic tournaments.
The IIHF Council also discussed the status of the Chinese men’s ice hockey team ahead of the 2022 Olympic Winter Games. The Council confirmed that it will uphold the decision by the 2018 IIHF Congress to grant the Chinese men’s national team a host qualification position in the 2022 Olympic Games.
The Council also confirmed that Herning, and Frederikshavn will serve as the host cities for the 2022 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship.
The tournament, which will be the first Women’s World Championship to be held in an Olympic year, is scheduled to take place from 26 August – 4 September 2022.
New IIHF Committees taking shape
The IIHF Council also confirmed the assignments of all Chairpersons to the IIHF Committees, which act as recommending bodies to the Council on various IIHF-related topics, from sport development to marketing to officiating to medical/player safety. The number and structure of the Committees was also confirmed by Council.
Prior to the Council meeting, all IIHF Member National Associations were requested to submit candidates to be considered for membership within the various IIHF Committees. The committee members will be announced next week following the acceptance of their nominations.
The Council also confirmed the establishment of all-new Presidential Task Force Groups. The objective of each group will be to focus on special-assigned topics that fall outside Committee mandates and formed the basis for the IIHF President’s election platform, in order to execute the president’s vision for the 2021-2026 Council Term.
The groups will be structured to ensure bilateral representation from specific groups of IIHF Committees and external organizations.
“Before we discuss any details, all of these four group tasks will begin with a comprehensive study to determine what the primary areas for improvement are within their areas of focus,” said IIHF President Luc Tardif.
“Again, before we make any concrete plans we will talk first to our stakeholders, understand their needs and if required then we build a plan of action. It could be that we will not take any actions with these focus areas, if these studies prove that we are in an optimal position with the current situation. Nevertheless, it’s important that we ask questions and take a careful examination to know for certain.”
Task Force #1: IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship
The first Presidential Task Force will work with participating teams to review the IIHF U18 men’s national team competition.
This task force will involve sportive, marketing, and event-based evaluations of the tournament to determine whether it might be possible to optimize the U18s to attract more exposure for the tournament and use it to enhance junior ice hockey development, in particular for European nations.
Task Force #2: Review Division IA/IB structure
Another Task Force Group will be asked to look at the composition of the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A and Division I Group B events.
The aim of the task force will be to determine potential methods to bring the competitive level of Division IB closer to the level of IA, and improve the overall quality of play for all teams that play in these divisions that operate just below the top division of the IIHF Championship Program.
Task Force Group #3: Exploring 3-on-3 hockey
The third Task Force Group will aim to introduce a new category of ice hockey in the IIHF program.
Following up on the successful introduction of 3-on-3 into the 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games via a mixed-NOC event, the group will look at how to effectively implement and develop a 3-on-3 event and explore all potential relevant development and commercial aspects.
Task Force Group #4: Professional League/Club cooperation
The final Presidential Task Force Group will be dedicated towards enhancing cooperation between the IIHF, its members, and leagues and clubs within Europe.
The task force will involve not just IIHF Committees but also the top 16 IIHF Member National Associations, together with representatives of Hockey Europe (the Union of European leagues), the Alliance of European Hockey Clubs (E.H.C), several major European leagues, the Champions Hockey League, and the Kontinental Hockey League.
“We are committed to elevating our level of communication and cooperation with our members and with leagues/clubs,” said Tardif “This is a priority for the IIHF to ensure that all those involved at the highest levels of our sport are working in cooperation.”
Sustainability targets established
The IIHF Council also approved that the IIHF will pledge to become a signatory to the United Nations “Race to Zero” action plan.
The commitment is an extension of the IIHF’s role as a signatory of the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework, for which it has been a member since 2018. The Framework is comprised of over 270 signatories from the sports industry to help drive the sector to reduce its overall emissions.
The commitment means that the IIHF will pledge to reduce its emissions by 50% by 2030, with a net-zero emissions target for 2050.
With its pledge, the IIHF through its Sustainability Committee will next work on a proposal over the next year to define how it will achieve this emissions goal.