IIHF Cancels 2020 World Championship

The COVID-19 pandemic has canceled more hockey. On Saturday the IIHF Council made the decision to cancel the 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.

This is the tournament in May that features many NHL players whose teams either did not make the playoffs or were eliminated early. It was scheduled to take place in Zurich and Lausanne, Switzerland this year.

Additionally, the IIHF Annual Congress – supposed to take place May 21-23 in Zurich – has been “postponed until further notice” according to an article on the IIHF website by Adam Steiss.

Steiss quoted IIHF President Rene Fasel as saying “this is a harsh reality to face for the international ice hockey family, but one that we must accept. 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.”

Steiss further quoted Gian Gilli, General Secretary for the 2020 IIHF World Championship Organizing Committee. He said “we accept this decision of the IIHF Council. But of course, this is a huge disappointment for the Organizing Committee. It is an exceptional situation for all concerned and it is now a question of resolving all the outstanding issues.”

The IIHF and the Organizing Committee have some backup, reports Steiss. They have both “implemented a robust insurance and risk management program for the 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in accordance with the IIHF Statutes and insurance guidelines. Part of these risk management measures included protecting the substantial revenues associated with the event. These revenue protection measures have responded accordingly.”

Steiss said that there was no consideration given to relocating the 2020 World Championship to another country. He basically said that it is a long process and logistics could not make it happen. In addition, the locations for the World Championship tournament “are fixed until Year 2025. Therefore, such a decision will not be forthcoming until Congress is next in session” – which would not be this year, obviously.

In addition, the tournament cannot be postponed to later in the year as that would impact preparations for future World Championships in Minsk, Belarus and Riga, Latvia in 2021 and Helsinki/Tampere, Finland in 2022.

So that’s it. More hockey off the schedule. Hopefully the CHL can reschedule the Memorial Cup to some point after the spread of the virus has died down a little.

Of course, the health and safety of everyone involved is the most important thing and I understand this decision completely and I hope everyone is keeping safe in this challenging time.