The IIHF have announced this morning they have initiated a series of World Championship cancellations for the 2020-21 season, which includes tournaments involving Great Britain Under-20s Men and GB Under-18 Women.
GB U20s were set to travel to Romania in February 2021 for the Division II Group A tournament, while GB U18 Women were to have the honour of playing on home ice in Dumfries in January next year.
The World Championship events are two of 10 tournaments cancelled by the IIHF and a full list can be found here.
Martin Grubb, head coach of GB Under-20s, said: “This is obviously very disappointing news but it understandable in the current situation.
“I know so many players will have been focused on making the squad for the World Championship and now no-one will be able to achieve that dream.
“But as a coaching and management group, we will continue to plan for the future and be prepared for 2022.”
Head coach of GB Under-18 Women, James Ashton, added: “Even though this news has not come as a shock, it is sad and I feel for all the players who had their eye on international representation this season.
“Of course, it’s a sensible decision and the correct one, but it does not make the news any easier to take. A World Championship tournament is the pinnacle of any player’s career and our young GB Women’s talent won’t be able to do that in 2021.
“The coaching staff though remain focused and we will plan for the future.”
The IIHF Council followed the Expert Group’s recommendations that cited major concerns over the ability of the event hosts to operate a tournament in a safe environment and without incurring potentially serious financial risks should the tournament be cancelled or a participant fall ill.
“Requiring each tournament hosts to operate a competition bubble is not a practical request for our lower-division tournament organisers, many of whom are already stretched financially from the covid-19 pandemic,” said IIHF president René Fasel.
“The IIHF does not have the resources necessary to properly supervise the safe operation of these tournaments, so that the minimum requirements for covid-19 health and safety can be met.”
Fasel also confirmed that the IIHF Council will look into creating a new Covid-19 Relief Fund, which will help support the member national associations that would have organised and/or participated in a men’s U20 or women’s U18 event.
Other tournaments currently on schedule
At present time, the council’s decision to cancel these tournaments does not impact on GB Men, GB Women or GB U18 Men and their events are currently scheduled to go-ahead next year.
The IIHF Covid-19 Expert Group will continue to monitor and evaluate the status of all active tournaments and make reports and recommendations to the IIHF Council.