The IIHF has cancelled the upcoming Continental Cup competition ©IIHF/William Cherry

The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) has confirmed the cancellation of the upcoming Continental Cup competition due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The IIHF Council made the decision during a video conference yesterday, following recommendations from the governing body’s IIHF COVID-19 expert group.

The expert group, established to analyse and evaluate the playing status of all tournaments during the coronavirus crisis, held its first meeting last week.

The Continental Cup, Europe’s second tier club competition, was scheduled to begin on October with the qualifying round.

Group A had been due to take place at Akureyri in Iceland, while Group B was set to be held in Bulgaria’s capital Sofia.

The IIHF expert group highlighted existing travel restrictions still in place within Iceland, along with additional existing concerns surrounding the capability of tournament hosts and competing teams to ensure compliance with the governing body’s COVID-19 safety regulations.

Cancellation follows a recommendation from the IIHF Covid-19 expert group ©IIHF/Adam Steiss
Cancellation follows a recommendation from the IIHF Covid-19 expert group ©IIHF/Adam Steiss

The IIHF said these challenges prompted its Council to move to cancel the entire tournament.

"We have been carefully evaluating the ability of our tournament hosts to execute the Continental Cup in a manner that is safe and in compliance with our health and safety guidelines," said IIHF President René Fasel.

"Unfortunately, the nature of this tournament involves six different countries hosting and 20 different travelling clubs, and under the current global situation with the pandemic we do not feel that it is safe to proceed with this tournament.”

A total of 20 teams feature in the tournament, with the winners qualifying for the Champions Hockey League.

Danish side SønderjyskE Ishockey were last year's winners.

The IIHF said its competition and coordination committee will assess the sporting implications of the cancelled Continental Cup.