IIHF President René Fasel has expressed dismay over the decision to call off the Women's World Championship in an open letter to participants ©Getty Images

International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) President René Fasel has criticised the Nova Scotia Government's "completely unexpected" decision to pull the plug on staging the Women’s World Championship and vowed to put on the event "within the next few months".

Halifax and Truro in the Canadian province were set to host the rescheduled event from May 6 to 16 only for it to be called off due to coronavirus safety concerns.

Fasel said the cancellation had come as a surprise after claiming organisers had received assurances from local authorities to push ahead with their plans just "a few days" before the announcement.

The IIHF President expressed his dismay in an open letter to participants, claiming the IIHF and Hockey Canada had "no reason to believe" the Government would cancel the event until it was confirmed on Wednesday (April 21).

"While we must accept this decision, the IIHF is not in agreement with the Government’s position insofar as we had done everything necessary to install the proper COVID-19 safety precautions in place and remained in close communication with the relevant government and health authorities and with Hockey Canada throughout the preparation stage," Fasel wrote.

"As both the IIHF and Hockey Canada had assurances that this event was going to proceed a few days before the cancellation announcement, this news was completely unexpected."

Fasel said he had received some requests for an explanations as to why the IIHF did not have a contingency plan in place should the tournament be cancelled, but insisted the logistics of keeping a venue as a back-up option made it "not a workable solution".

"Keeping spare hotels for exclusive use for the event booked, staff and two arenas that are up to the IIHF standard of a ten-team World Championship event - in an entirely different province or country in case of a cancellation in the main host region - is just not possible from an expense and logistical perspective," Fasel wrote.

"In addition, COVID-19 safety precautions necessitate significant coordination with various health and safety authorities to understand local rules and establish quarantine requirements and safety protocols, as well with regional and national governments due to existing travel bans and immigration restrictions in place."

Fasel claimed the IIHF informed some teams of the cancellation "just hours" before they were set to board planes to Canada, but he admitted avoiding a wasted flight was "little consolation".

Nova Scotia was due to stage the 2020 edition of the World Championship but it was cancelled, so instead assumed hosting rights for this year.

The event was originally scheduled to take place in April but was moved back by a further month in the hope that more teams would be able to travel to Canada.

Instead the heath situation deteriorated.

Fasel said the IIHF and Hockey Canada would now work together to ensure the tournament takes place "as early as summer 2021".

The IIHF and Hockey Canada are set to work together to find a new venue for the Women's World Championship ©Getty Images
The IIHF and Hockey Canada are set to work together to find a new venue for the Women's World Championship ©Getty Images

"We know this news must have come as a shock to them especially, as they have not had the chance to take part in an international tournament since 2019 and were no doubt looking forward to getting back on the ice after a tough year," said Fasel.

"Again, we completely sympathize with and share their disappointment, and for this reason we are 100 per cent committed to making sure they can play the Women’s World Championship as soon as possible within the next few months.  

"Therefore, I wish in this letter to communicate clearly to you our desire to postpone this event to a new date, one that would make it possible for all teams to participate and give enough time for a host to make the necessary preparations.

"In addition to giving the best female ice hockey players in the world a chance to compete together, we also know how important this event to our Member National Associations especially on the eve of an Olympic year."

Ten teams are due to take part in the tournament - defending champions the United States, Canada, Finland, Russia and Switzerland are in Group A, with Group B due to feature Japan, Germany, the Czech Republic, Denmark and Hungary.