The 2021 women’s world hockey championship will now be held from Aug. 20-31 at a site in Canada that has yet to be determined, the IIHF announced Friday.
The 10-team tournament, originally scheduled for May 6-16, was cancelled by the Nova Scotia government last week due to COVID-19 concerns.
“The players, the teams, Hockey Canada, and the IIHF have been placed in a difficult position due to the sudden cancellation. But this is not an excuse to operate this tournament as a half-measure,” IIHF President René Fasel said in a statement announcing the new dates. “We needed a range of dates that can work for the teams and also would allow for comprehensive broadcast coverage as well as a chance for spectators to be able to attend the games.”
The announcement of new dates will be welcome news for players and fans, who were understandably upset when the tournament was cancelled for a second consecutive year on short notice. Players around the world took to social media and other platforms to protest the cancellation, saying they were “shocked,” “devastated” and felt like “the rug (was) pulled out from under us.”
“The cancellation of the women’s world championship at the last minute this week was just another reminder that women’s hockey continues to be treated as an afterthought,” Hilary Knight, a star for Team USA wrote in a social media post. “The health and safety of the people of Nova Scotia is, and must be, the top priority. However, to cancel this critical event so close to its start with some teams en route to the site to begin an 8-day quarantine process — and provide no other option — is incredibly disappointing.”
The IIHF announced shortly after the cancellation that it had no Plan B in place due to the costs and logistics required to pull off a tournament — including securing hotel rooms and ice time. There is still work to be done securing a new venue for the event, with Edmonton and Ottawa among the cities rumoured to be interested in hosting.
The new dates chosen will allow the tournament to be played before players return to their club teams to begin the next regular season and will not conflict with November’s qualifying tournament for the Olympics.
“In our meeting with the teams, unfortunately we were unable to achieve a full consensus on the dates, with some teams preferring to play in early September and others in late August. But we need to respect as much as possible the start of various women’s leagues around the world, and also recognize the needs of the four teams that must prepare for the Women’s Olympic qualification tournament in November,” Fasel said in a statement.
“I would like to thank the Council, Hockey Canada, and the teams for their input and participation in a decision-making process that was organized on such short notice. We passed an important first milestone by finding the optimal dates to hold this event and now will proceed to the next stage and choose a suitable venue.”