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Coronavirus forces IIHF to cancel women's hockey worlds

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Montreal (AFP)

This year's Women's World Ice Hockey Championships in Canada were canceled on Saturday by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) due to the spreading global outbreak of coronavirus.

The IIHF Council agreed in a special meeting to cancel the event, set for Halifax and Truro in Nova Scotia for March 31 to April 10.

A Division I Group A tournament set for April 12-18 in Angers, France, was also cancelled.

"It is with great regret that we must take this action," IIHF president Rene Fasel said. "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 time frame.

"We look forward to coming to Canada in 2021," Fasel said.

The men's World Championships remain scheduled for Switzerland from May 8-24, the IIHF said, although the statement said its council will reconvene in mid-March to "re-evaluate" the coronavirus situation.

Five-time defending champion United States, an eight-time world winner overall, and 10-time world champion Canada are the only teams to ever capture the women's world ice hockey title since the event began in 1990.

The 2003 women's worlds, set for Beijing, were cancelled due to the SARS outbreak in China.

The US women edged host Finland 2-1 in a shootout in last year's final.

Scheduling of women's qualifying tournaments for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics ice hockey event will be impacted by the World Championships cancellation.

"The IIHF Competition and coordination committee will review the implications of this cancellation and propose recommendations to the Council," Fasel said.

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