2020 IIHF Women's World Championship Cancellation: The Rundown
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2020 IIHF Women's World Championship Cancellation: The Rundown

2020 IIHF Women's World Championship Cancellation: The Rundown by Kirsten Whelan

It was announced on Saturday by the IIHF that the 2020 Women's World Championship, scheduled for March 31 to April 10 in Truro and Halifax, Nova Scotia, has been cancelled. Here are key points regarding the situation:

The final decision was made by the IIHF Council on Saturday morning.

The process that led to the event's cancellation began 10 days prior, when the head of the Japanese delegation reached out to Hockey Canada to inquire about the possibility of arriving to Canada ahead of schedule, in order to avoid being caught in a potential quarantine in Japan. Hockey Canada consulted with health authorities before contacting the IIHF, who advised them that other events had been cancelled. With that, Hockey Canada went back to the Nova Scotian provincial health authority, who "cautioned" them about hosting the tournament; they responded by asking for a formal position. Following a call on Thursday, Hockey Canada received a letter from the Chief Medical Officer of Health of the Province of Nova Scotia recommending that the tournament not be held as originally scheduled. During a board vote on Friday morning, Hockey Canada decided to forward the letter to the IIHF for consideration.

Canadian players were informed through a conference call early Saturday.

If I were a women's hockey player, I would simply not join conference calls in the month of March. They have a bad track record.

All programming planned for the lead-up has been cancelled, meaning that May fitness testing and Fall Festival are the next events on the senior Canadian national team's calendar.

The team had one last mini-camp scheduled for this coming week in Montreal, ahead of the final pre-Worlds camp in Nova Scotia that was set for the last week of March. Those have both been cancelled, in a decision made jointly with the players. "In consultation with our leadership group, our athletes, the decision was made to not host that camp, I think in respect of the announcement and certainly how everyone's feeling," said Director of National Women's Teams, Gina Kingsbury. "I think some time and space is probably needed for our group and we would certainly respect that and value the opinion of our leadership group, who definitely took a temperature and a gauge with our entire team."

The roster of players selected to the team is expected to be released this week.

Though players were informed of their status about three weeks ago, Hockey Canada postponed the public roster announcement while they worked to determine whether the tournament would occur. Despite the cancellation, the roster will be revealed. "There's an enormous amount of talent in our country and to be one of 23, it's something that we need to recognize," Kingsbury said. "We do have players that this was going to be their first World Championship, so a special and important moment for them." Sources indicate that in addition to some debuts, there is at least one notable omission from the team.

Although Canada was scheduled to host the 2023 Women's World Championship, that could change.

When they informed Hockey Canada of the decision to cancel this year's tournament, top IIHF officials assured the federation that Halifax and Truro would instead host 2021 Worlds. Those were meant to be played in Russia, and given that the current set-up would see Canada host Worlds both the year before and immediately following the next Olympics, we could see a swap. "If the IIHF requested, we would not host in 2023, to allow Russia to host in 2023," said President and COO, Scott Smith. "And as always, we will work with the IIHF and follow their direction on the long-term hosting schedule." A wrench, however: it's not clear where IIHF Women's Worlds rank on the scale of Major Events (top division world championships should count) and the Court of Arbitration for Sport has yet to decide on RUSADA's appeal, but in theory, Russia shouldn't be able to host in 2023 as a result of the four-year ban imposed by WADA.

At this time, Hockey Canada is not issuing reimbursements for ticket purchases.

All 2020 tickets will be honoured for the 2021 tournament, and the event is being treated as a postponement rather than an outright cancellation. Hockey Canada contacted ticketholders on Saturday informing them of this, and indicated that those with questions, concerns or conflicts could contact tickets@hockeycanada.ca and expect return communication by March 16, 2020.

(Photo credit: Matthew Murnaghan/Hockey Canada Images)