The International Ice Hockey Federation has certainly made its intentions clear: women’s hockey does not matter as much as men’s.
After announcing less than two months ago that the 2021 Women’s World Championship would go ahead with its scheduled running of the annual event from Halifax and Truro, Nova Scotia beginning on May 6, the IIHF has rescinded that plan on Wednesday, announcing the cancellation of the 2021 event, for the second year in a row, citing provincial safety issues within Nova Scotia.
“Hockey Canada was informed by the Province of Nova Scotia this morning that a decision has been made to cancel the 2021 IIHF Women’s World Championship in Halifax and Truro,” said Hockey Canada President Tom Renney in a prepared statement on Wednesday. “While we are disappointed with the cancellation, we understand the decision was made with the health and safety of all participants and the community at large as the top priority.”
Although shifting the blame to the province of Nova Scotia, the IIHF did not fight back with the resistance expected with an annual international tournament on the line, especially since not having played since the 2019 running. The IIHF did say it will begin a search for new dates, with a proposed outlook of the summer of 2021.
“This is very disappointing news to receive with just a few weeks until the tournament was to begin,” IIHF President René Fasel said Wednesday. “We strongly believe that we had the adequate safety measures in place to protect players, officials, spectators, and all residents in Halifax and Truro, based on the IIHF and Hockey Canada’s experiences from hosting the IIHF World Junior Championship in Edmonton.”
The most difficult part in all of this is that despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the IIHF was able to host the 2021 World Junior Hockey Championships back in December and January, while continuing to stick to the April 26 to May 6 schedule for the upcoming U-18 men’s championship in Frisco, Texas.
Last year’s cancellation for the Women’s World Championship was felt by all participants and fans, but the hope for a successfully-run 2021 edition kept the flame alive for all female Olympic-level athletes.
Wednesday’s official cancellation hits exceptionally hard, not only when looking at the men’s World Juniors and U-18 championships allowed to proceed, but paired alongside the continued struggle of putting together a self-sufficient female hockey league where the best players in the world can compete year-round for a salary that keeps the players living above the poverty line.
Set to participate in the 2021 running of the Women’s World Championship were Manitobans Jocelyne Larocque (Ste. Anne), Brigette Lacquette (Mallard) and Kristen Campbell of Brandon. Also having earned a place on the Canadian roster was therapist Jami Boyd from Minnedosa.