IIHF cancels 2021 U18 World Championship tournaments, postpones Olympic Qualifying tournaments due to COVID-19

A decision on the senior-level tournament has not been made yet.

The IIHF cancelled all five levels of the 2021 U18 women’s World Championships and postponed of the Olympic Qualifying tournaments on recommendations of their COVID-19 Expert Group.

U18 World Championships

The top level of the U18 tournament was set to be played from Jan. 5-12, 2021 in Linkoping & Mjolby, Sweden. The lower levels were scheduled in Gyor, Hungary; Radenthein, Austria; Dumfries, Great Britain; and Kocaeli, Turkey throughout January 2021.

“By choosing to cancel these tournaments now, we can avoid a situation the tournament organizer needlessly spending money to prepare these tournaments,” said IIHF President René Fasel in the announcement. “In the bigger picture, the money that would have been used for these tournaments will help the organizers to get through this season, focus on domestic development, and come back next year ready to play international hockey once more.”

“The IIHF does not have the resources necessary to properly supervise the safe operation of these tournaments, so that the minimum requirements for COVID-19 health and safety can be met,” Fasel continued.

Fasel cited testing costs, travel restrictions, and the financial hardships that a bubble scenario would place on the host nations among the reasons for the cancellation.

The IIHF also called off all of the lower divisions of the men’s U20 tournaments, leaving in place their top division or World Juniors, which is currently set to be played at nearly the same time frame as U18 Women’s would have been.

In total, the IIHF has cancelled five of the 21 men’s tournaments and five of the 11 women’s tournaments thus far.

New Zealand and Australia had previously withdrawn from the U18 tournaments, due to the pandemic.

U18 Worlds in Linkoping & Mjolby, Sweden, Jan. 5-12, 2021
Group A in Mjolby: USA, Canada, Russia, Finland
Group B in Linkoping: Sweden, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Germany
Division I Group A in Gyor, Hungary, Jan. 10-16, 2021
Slovakia, Japan, Hungary, France, Italy, Norway
Division I Group B in Radenthein, Austria, Jan. 10-16, 2021
Denmark, Austria, China, Korea, Poland, Chinese Taipei
Division II Group A in Dumfries, Great Britain, Jan. 19-21, 2021
Great Britain, Netherlands, Australia, Spain
Division II Group B in Kocaeli, Turkey, Jan. 28-31, 2021
Kazakhstan, Turkey, Mexico, New Zealand, Latvia

Olympic Qualifying Tournaments

The IIHF also postponed the set of games to see which countries will fill the final three spots for the 2022 Olympics in China. The first tournament was scheduled for Dec. 17-19, 2020 in Reykjavik, Iceland between Iceland, Hong Kong, Bulgaria, and Lithuania.

2022 will be the first Olympics games played with the expanded 10-team field. In April, the IIHF released its rankings. The top six teams - USA, Canada, Finland, Russia, Switzerland, and Japan - automatically received spots in the tournament and host nation China received the seventh. Group A will have the top five teams while Japan, China, and the three to-be-determined teams will make up Group B.

In June, the IIHF announced the tournament list. In each Round, the winners of each group moves on to the next Round, filling the “Qualifier #” spot in the listed countries. The country that wins Groups C, D, and E will qualify for the Olympics.

As a note, the IIHF release named Norway in both Group C and D, but it would seem as if Denmark should be in Group D.

Final Olympic Qualification
Group C: Czech Republic, Hungary, Norway*, Qualifier 6. In Pribram, Czech Republic.
Group D: Germany, Denmark*, Austria, Qualifier 5. In Fussen, Germany.
Group E: Sweden, France, Slovakia, Qualifier 4. In Sweden (city TBA).
Olympic Qualification Round 2
Group F: Korea, Great Britain, Slovenia, Qualifier 8. In Gangneung, Korea.
Group G: Italy, Kazakhstan, Spain, Chinese Taipei. In Cortina, Italy.
Group H: Netherlands, Poland, Mexico, Turkey. In Gdansk, Poland.
Olympic Qualification Round 1
Group J: Iceland, Hong Kong, Bulgaria, Lithuania. In Reykjavik, Iceland.