IIHF cancels World Championships; Baku GP and World Surfing Games postponed
The International Ice Hockey Federation has cancelled its 2020 IIHF World Championships, scheduled for the Swiss cities of Zurich and Lausanne from 8 to 24 May, due to the worldwide spread of the coronavirus.
The IIHF has said it “cannot be determined at this time” whether the tournament will still go ahead later in 2020, or if those cities will instead host next year’s edition of the annual tournament, but has cancelled the championships for now.
The 2021 edition already has Minsk in Belarus and Riga in Latvia designated as official host cities, and the 2022 tournament has been allocated to Helsinki and Tampere in Finland.
The IIHF has said: “Any decision on a reallocation would have to be brought forth and discussed at the next IIHF annual congress.”
Fans who have bought tickets will be contacted once the body has worked out its refund policy, although if the event is only postponed then all tickets will remain valid.
Earlier this month, the IIHF cancelled the Women’s World Championship in Canada.
Elsewhere, motor racing’s Formula 1 Azerbaijan grand prix has also been postponed due to coronavirus fears.
The race, set for 7 June in the country’s capital Baku, now becomes the eighth race this year to be called off because of the virus' spread.
After the first seven races of the 2020 season were either postponed or cancelled earlier this month, the Baku event had looked on course to become the season’s de facto opening race, but has now been postponed by the Baku Street Circuit, the race's organisers.
The track would have needed extensive preparation, and work would have need to begin soon, hence the decision being taken today.
Last week, it was confirmed that the Monaco Grand Prix, one of the most high-profile motor racing events on the international calendar, will not take place at all in 2020. That race now joins those in Australia, Bahrain, Vietnam, China, the Netherlands and Spain in being cancelled or postponed.
Formula 1 has brought forward its summer break from August to March and April, with the aim of proceeding with a season of up to 21 rounds, but it remains to be seen if this is feasible, with the likely need to host races on consecutive weekends, and already-postponed races at risk of being cancelled, if the coronavirus situation continues to escalate.
After Baku, the next races are scheduled to take place in Canada on 14 June, and in France on 28 June.
The BCC said: "We will continue to work closely with Formula 1 and the FIA to monitor the situation, with a view to announcing a new race date later in the 2020 season."
In surfing, the International Surfing Association’s World Surfing Games in El Salvador, originally set for 9 to 17 May this year, have been pushed back one month, in agreement with the World Surf League.
The games have now been provisionally given rearranged dates of 6 to 14 June, but the ISA has said it will reassess the situation on 20 April.
The governing body has also said it will “continue to work in close consultation with the International Olympic Committee in the ensuing days and weeks concerning potential changes to the qualification process, and any eventual contingency plans.”
This comes after the IOC, in the last 24 hours, said it would make a decision in the next month over the fate of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Canada has warned it will boycott the games if they go ahead as planned this July and August, while several other bodies have called for rescheduling or postponement.
Surfing has looked set to make its debut at the Tokyo Olympics, after the IOC announced it as one of five new sports to feature at those games in 2016.