All hope is not lost for a 2021 women’s world hockey championship.
The event, which was originally slated to take place in Nova Scotia before its last-minute cancellation this week due to COVID-19, could soon have a new home and a new start date.
“This week, the IIHF will begin the procedure for finding a new home for this event, which is expected to be held at the end of the summer,” Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported Saturday during the Headlines segment of Hockey Night in Canada. “The other thing it could be used for is to lead into the teams’ Olympic participation scheduled for next winter in Beijing.”
Cancelling this year’s tournament in Nova Scotia marked the second straight time it was derailed by the pandemic. The province’s chief medical officer had expressed support for the event, but concerns over rising case numbers and variant strands of the virus compelled Iain Rankin, the province’s premier, to withdraw permission for the 11-day event to take place.
News of the cancellation came as Team Canada was on the verge of announcing its roster and eight other teams were preparing to depart on international flights, prompting outrage from both players and supporters of the game.
“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 Friday 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 defended not having a Plan B, saying it didn’t appear there was a need for one given the province’s initial approval, while also claiming logistical and financial obstacles were too significant.
The men’s world championship is scheduled to open in less than a month in Riga, Latvia. January’s women’s under-18 hockey championship in Sweden was cancelled, but the men’s under-18 tournament was moved from Michigan to Texas and is scheduled to be played next week.
Though it is not clear where the new location for the tournament will be, the IIHF has said it will work with Hockey Canada for it to host the women’s championship this year.