The final tournament on the International Ice Hockey Federation calendar, the last hope of any semblance of international hockey this season, today was officially cancelled, as the Top Division of the Men’s World Championship was officially cancelled over COVID-19 concerns.
After four separate announcements over the past weeks of cancellations due to the coronavirus pandemic, the IIHF continuously made a point to note that the Top Division, the top tournament on the IIHF calendar, was still on until further notice. But now, the tournament, which was set to kick off on 08 May in Zürich and Lausanne, Switzerland, has officially been axed. It stands to reason that the existing group structures and teams will automatically shift to 2021, but with the IIHF Congress set for Zürich postponed as well this has yet to be confirmed.
This marks a huge blow for the IIHF, with the tournament being hosted by Switzerland, the home of the International Ice Hockey Federation, and in Swiss national René Fasel’s final year as IIHF president, no less. The tournament, which is by far the IIHF’s biggest draw and revenue maker of the calendar year, now sees itself cancelled for the first time since 1946 – a tournament that for 74 years survived multiple regional military conflicts, the entire Cold War and a number of various pandemics. But now, for the first time since World War II, no world ice hockey champion will be crowned.
This marks a disappointing, yet sadly expected, finish to the international hockey calendar, meaning that international hockey is in effect in its offseason until at least August, when both the rescheduled Carlson Hockey Games and final men’s Olympic qualifiers for the 2022 Games are set to be held. Hopefully the pandemic will not be as ravaging by that point in time, but with the Euro Hockey Challenge cancelled as well, now the International Hockey Lineal Championship, ice hockey, and for the most part pro sports in general around the world, have now been cancelled for the foreseeable future.