For the first time since 1988, there will be no Men’s IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.
The IIHF council confirmed the decision on Saturday, citing the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as the reason why the tournament will not happen.
The competition was scheduled to occur from May 8 - May 24 in Zurich and Lausanne, Switzerland.
“This is a harsh reality to face for the international ice hockey family, but one that we must accept,” said IIHF President René Fasel in the official release. “The coronavirus is a global problem and requires major efforts by government bodies to combat its spread. 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.”
This is the latest IIHF event to be cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak. Both the Women’s World Hockey Championships and the Men’s Under-18 World Hockey Championship were cancelled earlier this month due to the virus.
The last time the IIHF Men’s World Hockey Championships did not occur was in 1988. That was due to the fact that during the 1980s (1980, 1984, 1988) the hockey competition was not held during Olympic years.
The number of reported cases of the coronavirus between Switzerland and bordering country Liechtenstein has risen to 3,888, with 33 people dying from the disease.
As most other sports are either delayed, postponed or cancelled due to the coronavirus, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics are still forging ahead as scheduled for July.
On Tuesday the International Olympic Committee released a statement encouraging Olympic athletes to continue training, and said its top priority is to “protect the health of everyone involved and to support the containment of the virus.”
Athletes are voicing concerns with attending the games during a global pandemic. Six-time Olympian and member of the IOC’s Athletes’ Commission, Hayley Wickenheiser, blasted the IOC for their recommendation to hold the upcoming Tokyo Games amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“This crisis is bigger than even the Olympics,” Wickenheiser wrote.
Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, held a news conference in Tokyo where he said the Games will continue to go on despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We will overcome the spread of the infection and host the Olympics without problem, as planned,” Abe said.
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