The IIHF has reviewed a comprehensive report produced by a group of external organisations and experts concerning the status of the 2021 World Championship.
The report was produced in response to the ongoing challenging situation within Belarus and Latvia that has affected preparations for the tournament, scheduled to be co-hosted in Minsk and Riga from 21st May to 6th June 2021.
Great Britain are set to be in Group A in Minsk, coming up against hosts Belarus, as well as the Czech Republic, Denmark, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden and Switzerland
“The reports we received from this expert group analysis triggered serious discussions within the IIHF Council,” said IIHF president René Fasel.
“There are issues occurring within Belarus that we need to take seriously because there is a significant risk that the current challenges in Minsk, the government position of the Latvian co-host, and the covid-19 pandemic will have a significant impact the 2021 World Championship in Minsk and Riga.”
In addition to citing credible safety concerns for tournament participants and fans under the current safety environment, the independent report included a covid-19 threat assessment that expressed skepticism over the reporting of virus numbers within Belarus, the virus caseloads since September 2020 and the extent of national measures being taken to suppress the pandemic.
“These are very real and very serious considerations as this tournament is the most important asset of the IIHF and supports so much of what we do,” said Fasel.
“If you take a normal season situation it wouldn’t be realistic right now that Belarus and Latvia could guarantee their capability to conduct World Championship tournament operations.”
Fasel emphasised that based on the report the IIHF questions whether the tournament in Minsk and Riga can be played if the current situation remains as it is presently, but equally that the IIHF cannot be put in a position where it is unable to deliver a World Championship.
He agreed, together with the council, that more time would be needed to review the situation and decide on the best course of action.