Day: September 16, 2020

Discussions on 2021 World Championship to headline IIHF Council meeting

Inside the Games

The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) is set to discuss concerns surrounding Belarus and Latvia co-hosting the 2021 Men’s World Championship during its latest Council meeting tomorrow.

Next year’s World Championship is likely to be the main item on the agenda at the Council meeting, which will be held remotely because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Belarus co-hosting the IIHF’s flagship tournament outside of the Winter Olympic Games has been thrown into doubt amid widespread protests in the country following the disputed re-election of Alexander Lukashenko as President last month.

Latvia has called on the IIHF to find another co-host for the event and has threatened to withdraw if the worldwide governing body fails to do so.

Newly-appointed Belarusian Ice Hockey Association President Dmitri Baskov has claimed the nation can still jointly stage the competition and claimed there is no reason for the IIHF to strip the country of its hosting rights.

Belarus has also suggested it could host the 2021 World Championship alone if Latvia follows through with its threat to pull out.

Belarus co-hosting the 2021 IIHF World Championship has been thrown into doubt amid protests in the country

The topic is on the agenda for the IIHF Council meeting after the Latvian Government wrote an official letter to the organisation calling for Belarus to be removed as a co-host.

A final decision on the tournament is not expected to be made tomorrow, with IIHF President René Fasel recently claiming it was “too early” to make conclusions on the tournament.

Belarus is due to stage matches in 2021 at Minsk Arena, alongside co-hosts Latvia, which plans to use Arena Riga.

Both the semi-finals and the medal matches are set to be held in Minsk.

IIHF Council member and Russian Hockey Federation President Vladislav Tretiak said the worldwide body was committed to staging its events over the coming season after the COVID-19 pandemic led to the cancellation of all World Championships in 2020.

Tretiak told Russia’s official state news agency TASS the IIHF was looking at the National Hockey League (NHL), which has resumed its season, as an example of how its competitions can be held.

“Firstly, we are constantly monitoring the situation that exists in the world now,” he said. 

“Secondly, we have an example in the form of how the National Hockey League is currently holding the Stanley Cup, it is expensive and the NHL has invested a lot of money there. 

“But the International Federation is definitely planning to hold the youth, women’s and men’s world championships, with or without spectators – time will tell.”

IIHF decision looming on world juniors

By The Canadian Press

A decision has yet to be made on whether the 2021 world junior men’s hockey championship in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alta., will be played with or without fans.

The International Ice Hockey Federation’s council will meet later this month to review the status of all tournaments in 2020-21, according to an IIHF spokesman.

Council will hear recommendations and updates from the IIHF’s COVID-19 expert group and host cities.

The 2020 men’s world hockey championship in Lausanne and Zurich, Switzerland scheduled for May, the women’s championship in Halifax in March and the men’s world under-18 championship in Michigan in April were all cancelled because of the pandemic.

The 10-country world junior tournament scheduled for Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 at Rogers Place in Edmonton and Westerner Park in Red Deer features the top under-20 players in the world.

“At present time, there has been no change to the traditional hosting model for the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship in Edmonton and Red Deer,” Hockey Canada said Tuesday in a statement.

“Hockey Canada continues to engage in daily communication with the IIHF, the host communities of Edmonton and Red Deer, and the appropriate health authorities to examine all options for hosting the world junior championship in December and January.

“The health and safety of all participants and the community at large remains a priority for Hockey Canada, and our organization will continue to work towards hosting a safe, successful event on behalf of the IIHF.”

Edmonton and Toronto are currently hub cities for NHL playoffs. That league intends to complete the 2019-20 season interrupted for four months by the pandemic.

Players, coaches and team staff are walled off from the general public in hotels and arenas. Edmonton will host the Stanley Cup final.

No one in the “secure zones” have tested positive for the virus so far, according to the NHL.

“Given the current COVID-19 situation within Canada, together with the bubble measures that have been implemented very successfully by the NHL so far in Edmonton and Toronto, there could be discussions surrounding the feasibility of holding the world juniors in a similar environment,” the IIHF’s Adam Steiss told The Canadian Press in an email Tuesday.

“The health and safety of players, coaches, officials, arena staff, and fans remains a top priority.”