The women’s world hockey championship in Canada has been canceled because of the new coronavirus.
International Ice Hockey Federation President René Fasel told The Associated Press the decision was made by conference call Saturday. The two-week tournament was set to open March 31, with venues in Halifax and Truro, Nova Scotia.
“It is with great regret that we must take this action,” Fasel said in a press release. “It was not an easy decision to make, as we were greatly looking forward to hosting this tournament in Canada. Nevertheless, the decision has been made due to safety concerns for the well-being of players, officials, and spectators.
“Ultimately the IIHF Council feels that there has not been enough of an improvement to the coronavirus situation to allow us to safely host a 10-team international tournament within this timeframe. We look forward to coming to Canada in 2021.”
Hockey Canada was in the process of informing its officials and partners of the cancellation.
This marks the second time the women’s worlds have been canceled. The 2003 tournament scheduled for Beijing was called off because of the SARS outbreak in China.
The U.S., which previously named its roster for worlds, won the last five world titles dating to 2013, though last year’s came with controversy in the final against host Finland.
Finland, after upsetting Canada in the semifinals, forced the U.S. into overtime. The Finns scored and celebrated before the goal was overturned due to non-incidental goaltender interference. The U.S. went on to win in a shootout, just as it did in the PyeongChang Olympic final with Canada.
The U.S. coach since PyeongChang has been Bob Corkum, a 12-season NHL defenseman who succeeded Olympic head coach Robb Stauber.
The men’s hockey world championship is scheduled for Switzerland in May.
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