IIHF President René Fasel said a decision on the staging of this year's Men's World Championship will not be made until next week ©Getty Images

International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) President René Fasel has admitted it is "probably better" to stage this year’s Men’s World Championships in one country rather than two, but now says a decision on the host will not be made until next week.

It was previously suggested that an announcement on the staging of the tournament would be made today or yesterday.

But speaking to Russia’s official state new agency TASS, Fasel insists the IIHF "need more information" as the organisation considers offers from Latvia, Denmark and Slovakia.

Minsk in Belarus was originally set to co-host the event along with Riga in Latvia before it was stripped of the rights due to safety and security concerns in the country.

Riga has offered to hold the entire tournament, but Fasel is currently engaged in talks with Herning in Denmark and Bratislava in Slovakia over the possibility of staging matches.

International Olympic Committee member Fasel, who has already dismissed a bid from Lithuania, has now suggested a decision might not be made until Wednesday (February 3).

"We need more time to understand all the details and technical issues, we need more information," said Fasel.

"Due to the situation with the coronavirus, it is probably better for us to host the World [Championship] in one country, not two.

"We will make a decision next week. 

"Maybe be Tuesday (February 2) or Wednesday."

Denmark and Slovakia are in the running to stage matches during this year's Men's World Championship ©Getty Images
Denmark and Slovakia are in the running to stage matches during this year's Men's World Championship ©Getty Images

The 16-team World Championship is due to be held from May 21 to June 6.

Minsk was scheduled to host both semi-finals, two quarter-finals and all Group A matches.

"We are talking with both Bratislava and Herning about whether they will be able to host 16 teams," said Fasel.

"In Latvia it is not so easy to receive 16 teams, because there we will have to settle issues with the arena, build a temporary arena.

"Now we are still talking with all three sides, but we do not exclude that the World Championship will be held in two countries.

"Because of the coronavirus, it is not so easy to move between countries - this is another important issue.

"We need to assess all the specifics, we will analyse all the options and make the best decision for hockey."

Russia had offered to step in as a replacement for Belarus but the country is barred from being awarded or hosting major events until December 2022 under the series of sanctions imposed on the nation by the World Anti-Doping Agency as punishment for the manipulation of the Moscow Laboratory data.

The IIHF had come under pressure to move the event from Minsk because of political unrest in the nation, where protestors - including athletes - have allegedly been arrested, beaten and tortured for participating in demonstrations against Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

Lukashenko, who also heads the country's National Olympic Committee, has been banned from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics along with Belarusian Ice Hockey Association President Dmitri Baskov.

Baskov has been accused of involvement in the death of an opposition activist.

Fasel was criticised for meeting with Lukashenko in Belarus and having a picture taken with Baskov before the IIHF stripped Belarus of co-hosting rights, but claimed he had made the trip in an attempt to turn the World Championship into an event of "reconciliation".