Men’s Olympic hockey qualifying tournament rescheduled due to virus

Olympic athletes from Russia pose after winning the men's gold medal hockey game against Germany, 4-3, in overtime at the 2018 Winter Olympics. (Julio Cortez/AP)

The International Ice Hockey Federation is postponing the men’s hockey qualification tournament for the 2022 Beijing Olympics due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The move must now be approved by the Executive Board of the International Olympic Committee.

“We are fortunate that we still have some time to play these tournaments, and so that a move to August 2021 will still allow these teams to be able to ice their best players,” IIHF President René Fasel said in a statement.

The qualification tournament, which was originally scheduled for Aug. 27-30 of this year, will now be held in August of 2021. There are 12 countries competing for the final three spots in the 12-team Olympic tournament and the qualification groups will remain the same.

Group D: Slovakia, Belarus, Austria, Poland (in Bratislava, Slovakia)
Group E: Latvia, France, Italy, Hungary (in Riga, Latvia)
Group F: Norway, Denmark, Korea, Slovenia (in Norway, city TBA)

The top eight seeds in the IIHF rankings, plus host China, have already qualified for the Olympic tournament and the groups have been set pending the completed qualifications.

Group A: Canada (1), USA (6), Germany (7), China (12).
Group B: Russia (2), Czech Republic (5), Switzerland (8), Qualifier 3 (11).
Group C: Finland (3), Sweden (4), Qualifier 1 (9), Qualifier 2 (10).

In other news Wednesday, the IIHF has rescheduled its Annual Congress meeting for June 10 and for the first time will conduct the meeting virtually. The Congress, which would normally take place in the final days of the men’s world championship, features delegates from all 81 member countries and makes decisions on rules and bylaws related to international hockey.

“We need to have a Congress with our delegates in order to confirm some important decisions for the next international hockey season,” said Fasel in a statement. “Unlike a regular Congress, which lasts at least two days, this Virtual Congress will follow a narrow agenda so that we can reach a consensus on the most important points for next year.

“We have to bring the ice hockey family back together somehow, even if it is only online.”

The 2020 Congress meeting will, among other things, be focused on details related to the 2021 world championship, which is currently scheduled to be hosted by Minsk, Belarus and Riga, Latvia.

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