Among multiple tournament cancellations, IIHF president puts faith in Edmonton

Among multiple tournament cancellations, IIHF president puts faith in Edmonton

Hockey players crossing borders is the International Ice Hockey Federation’s stock in trade. The COVID-19 pandemic has severely curtailed that business.

The IIHF has cancelled 19 tournaments so far in both 2020 and 2021. Canada, a prominent participant in and host of international hockey events, has felt the impact.

IIHF president René Fasel is optimistic, however, about Canada’s ability to pull off the 2021 world under-20 men’s hockey championship currently scheduled to open Dec. 26 in Edmonton.

Alberta’s capital city has hosted the NHL playoffs since Aug. 1 with “secure zones” walled off from the general public and no spectators at games.

Edmonton is showing how an 11-day world junior tournament could similarly operate, Fasel said.

“The NHL’s experience will help very much,” he told The Canadian Press on Monday from Switzerland.

“(The junior tournament) is not as long as the NHL’s been out there since August. We still have to work on some details, but the (IIHF) council accepted the proposal from Hockey Canada. The participating nations are ready also to go to Edmonton.”

The 2020 world women’s championship in Halifax and Truro, N.S., was among the first IIHF tournaments called off when the virus advanced upon North America in March.

Nova Scotia was compensated with the right to hold the tournament in 2021.

But while declaring with Hockey Canada last week that the world juniors in Edmonton still has the green light, the IIHF simultaneously cancelled 10 other tournaments.

Nine of them, including the women’s world under-18 championship in Sweden, were scheduled for January and February in 2021.

Fasel said there are more unknowns planning the women’s world championship, scheduled for April 7-17 in Nova Scotia, than there are for the world juniors in Alberta.

“I really hope we have some vaccine or the virus will disappear somehow, some way,” he said. “On the other hand, we should also work on a bubble.

“I don’t know if it will work on the same concept. We have to speak to Hockey Canada and the organizers.

“We have to see and do everything possible that we can run this tournament in Halifax. What are the costs actually to make such a bubble in Halifax, if we need to make a bubble? It’s a little bit too early to make a decision.”

The IIHF was spared a devastating financial hit in 2020. The men’s world championship generates roughly US$25 million in revenue which largely funds the IIHF’s annual operations, according to Fasel. The cancellation of May’s championship in Switzerland because of the pandemic was covered by insurance.

“That was lucky,” the president said. “We could actually compensate some of our organizers and also pay some COVID support to the member national associations thanks to the insurance money.”

The IIHF also draws revenue from a world junior championship in Canada.

Under an agreement with Hockey Canada to regularly hold the tournament in this country, where lucrative sponsorships and high television ratings and tickets sales make it profitable, the IIHF receives a share.

The women’s championship, even in Canada, is not profitable, said Fasel.

“The under-20 worlds, I won’t say it’s a money machine, but it’s huge,” he said. “Hockey Canada makes money.

“We invest between $3 million and $4 million every year in women’s hockey. We invest $1 million U.S. dollars in the women’s world championship and it generates no income.”

The IIHF, International Olympic Committee, NHL and NHL Players’ Association met in February to discuss what it would take to get NHL players back to the Winter Olympics.

NHL players competed for their respective countries in five straight Winter Games before the league passed on Pyeongchang, South Korea in 2018.

July’s memorandum of understanding between the NHL and the NHLPA to resume a season interrupted by the virus stated an intention to participate in 2022 in Beijing and 2026 in Milan and Cortina, Italy.

But Fasel acknowledged the pandemic’s financial impact on both the NHL and IOC could affect negotiations on who pays for what, including insurance, to get NHL players on Olympic ice.

When the NHL will open the 2020-21 season is still uncertain. The postponement of 2020 Tokyo Summer Games to 2021 will hurt the IOC financially, said Fasel.

“We cannot travel. I would love to meet (NHL commissioner) Gary (Bettman) and Don Fehr from the NHLPA and continue the discussion,” he said.

“If the NHL is not able to play the next season starting in December, then I think it’s a very good question we have to ask Gary and Don, ‘are you ready to come to Beijing and shut down the league for two weeks?’”

This report from The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 21, 2020.

Follow @DLSpencer 10 on Twitter

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press

IIHF world junior hockey

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, reported 323 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday. (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson)
‘We’re in a danger zone,’ says Hinshaw

The province’s top doctor says “we’re in a danger zone” when it… Continue reading

Mayor Tara Veer pleads with the premier Tuesday to review the decision to move to a consolidated EMS dispatch system, which will be moved to three centres across the province. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
‘Issue of life and death’: mayors plead with government to halt consolidated EMS dispatch

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer calls on premier to overturn consolidated EMS dispatch decision

A $2.3-billion expansion of Alberta’s natural gas transportation system has been approved. “This should provide significant benefits — and we need every little bit of economic boost we can get,” says Reg Warkentin, policy adviser for the Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce. (Flickr photo)
Red Deer-area to benefit from $2.3 billion gas pipeline expansion project

Project will add 344 km of new pipeline between RMH and Grande Prairie

Dustin Snider was elected the new board president for Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)
Earl’s Restaurant manager re-elected Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce president

Dustin Snider has been re-elected president of the Red Deer & Distict… Continue reading

Red Deer singer Kayla Williams hopes listeners fed up with the pandemic are comforted by her new song, Stealing from My Youth, which is digitally available for streaming on Friday. (Contributed photo).
Red Deer singer summarizes universal pandemic feelings in a new single

Kayla Williams releases ‘Stealing From My Youth’ on Friday

Hamilton Forge coach Bobby Smyrniotis, right, hugs captain Kyle Bekker following their victory in the Canadian Premier League soccer final against the Calgary Cavalry in Calgary, Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019. Under Smyrniotis, Forge FC has been the class of the Canadian Premier League. The two-time champions from Hamilton look to mark their internationally this week as they open CONCACAF League play in El Salvador. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Forge FC coach Bobby Smyrniotis’ influence on Canadian soccer continues to grow

Forge FC coach Bobby Smyrniotis’ influence on Canadian soccer continues to grow

Players' sticks are shown during a World Hockey Championships game in Moscow, Russia on Thursday, May 12, 2016. A senior hockey team in a small city in southern Manitoba has changed its name following a push against the use of Indigenous names and caricatures as mascots. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Ivan Sekretarev
Manitoba senior hockey team changes Indigenous name to Bombers

Manitoba senior hockey team changes Indigenous name to Bombers

Jason Kokrak tees off during the final round of the CJ Cup golf tournament at Shadow Creek Golf Course Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, in North Las Vegas. (AP Photo/David Becker)
Long drive champ Berkshire looking to compete in tournaments

Long drive champ Berkshire looking to compete in tournaments

The Los Angeles Dodgers line up during during the national anthem and a fly over before Game 1 of the baseball World Series against the Tampa Bay Rays Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Pandemic World Series draws smallest crowd in over century

Pandemic World Series draws smallest crowd in over century

Keegan Messing performs in the Gala at the 2020 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships in Mississauga, Ont., on Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Messing dedicating his Skate America performance to grounded Canadian teammates

Messing dedicating his Skate America performance to grounded Canadian teammates

‘This Hour Has 22 Minutes’ goes south to cover U.S. election under COVID-19 protocols

‘This Hour Has 22 Minutes’ goes south to cover U.S. election under COVID-19 protocols

Jordan Peterson speaks to a crowd during a stop in Sherwood Park Alta, on Sunday February 11, 2018. Author and psychologist Peterson says he's back in Toronto and eager for "something resembling a normal life" after spending much of the past year in and out of hospitals around the world.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Jordan Peterson says he’s back in Toronto after ‘grueling’ health battle

Jordan Peterson says he’s back in Toronto after ‘grueling’ health battle

Most Read