By Tom Degun

Big HatNovember 23 - The city of Nagano in Japan will host the 2013 International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Ice Sledge Hockey B Pool World Championships in March, it has been announced.

The competition will take place between March 8 and 16 at the Wakasato Tamokuteki Sport Arena (pictured), which is commonly known as "Big Hat" due to its shape.

The competition will be organised by the Japan Ice Sledge Hockey Association (JISHA), with up to eight teams set to compete.

"On behalf of the local organising committee (LOC) and Japan Ice Sledge Hockey Association, I am glad to announce that the LOC and IPC have happily signed the contract for hosting the 2013 Ice Sledge Hockey World Championships B Pool to be held in Nagano, Japan in the next March," said JISHA President Kojin Nakakita.

"Japan is known as one of the best hospitality countries in the world and we are confident that this event will be one unforgettable event for all participants.

"All the best to everyone, and see you all in Nagano."

The competition will be the fourth edition of the B Pool Championships and just last week, six teams competed in the 2012 edition of the event in Novi Sad, Serbia, where Russia defeated Sweden 1-0 in the gold-medal game.

However, there will be extra pressure in March as the top three finishers in Japan will be set to earn a spot in the Sochi 2014 Winter Paralympic Games qualification tournament that will take place at the end of 2013.

"It is great to see Paralympic winter sport continuing to grow in Asia and, for the first time ever, an ice sledge hockey World Championship event will take place there," said IPC chief executive Xavier Gonzalez.

The "Big Hat" venue offers three different spectator stands and is situated less than three hours northwest of the Japanese capital of Tokyo, which is currently bidding for the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics.

Nagano is a city of nearly 400,000 people and hosted the first-ever Winter Paralympic Games in Asia in 1998.

Nagano 1998 demonstrated a rising media and public interest in Paralympic winter sport as 151,375 spectators viewed the Games, which was covered by 1,468 journalists.

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