Women’s world hockey championship cancelled over coronavirus concerns

The women’s world hockey championship in Halifax and Truro, N.S., has been cancelled due to concerns over the spreading coronavirus, International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel has told the Associated Press.

The tournament had been scheduled to start on March 31.

Fasel told the AP concerns were raised regarding the health of players and fans attending the tournament in light of the global spread of the virus. Hockey Canada was in the process of informing its officials and partners of the cancellation.

Fasel noted the difficulties some of the eight nations will encounter in simply making travel plans, such as Japan, where almost all sports events and large gatherings have been cancelled.

“It’s scary,” Fasel said.

This marks the second time the women’s worlds have been cancelled. The 2003 tournament scheduled for Beijing was called off because of the SARS outbreak in China.

The cancellation of the marquee women’s hockey competition is the latest blow to the sport.

The Canadian Women’s Hockey League abruptly shut down operations in April, leaving the U.S.-based National Women’s Hockey League as the only pro league in North America.

More than 200 of the top women players then formed the Professional Women’s Hockey Association and pledged not to compete professionally in North America this season in a bid to form a league that pays them a livable wage and provides health care.

Fasel said the status of other upcoming international hockey tournaments will be determined in the coming month, starting with the under-18 men’s championships in Michigan from April 16-26. Fasel said a decision regarding that tournament likely will be made within 10 days.

And the IIHF will await until mid-April to determine whether to proceed with the men’s world championships set to open May 8 in Switzerland.

“For sure, we are concerned and we are monitoring this,” Fasel said.

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With files from The Associated Press

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