During a video conference call on 19 May, the IIHF Council has established a set of key proposals that will impact of the upcoming 2020/2021 international ice hockey season.
These proposals will be brought up for vote by the IIHF Member National Associations (MNAs) at the 2020 IIHF Extra-Ordinary Congress, which is intended to take place in a virtual format with the target date on Wednesday, 24 June.
New schedule proposal: 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship
With the ongoing effects of COVID-19 already having an impact on the preparations for the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, the IIHF Council will submit a proposal to delay the start of the tournament by two weeks. The two-week postponement would also apply to the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A and Division I Group B.
This recommendation is being made by Council in anticipation of expected delays to the start of the season for national leagues, most of whom conclude their playoffs prior to the start of the World Championship.
“It is already apparent that the start of the season will be delayed for many of our top leagues,” said Fasel. “We have to try and adapt our schedule to be able to give more days for European leagues and clubs to finish their seasons.”
Under the proposed recommendation, the new dates for the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship would be from 21 May to 6 June 2021 (dates TBC pending Congress approval).
Extension of IIHF Council term
Prior to the start of the 2020/21 season, the IIHF intends to hold two Congresses. The first is the IIHF Extra-Ordinary Congress, which would replace the postponed Annual Congress that was to be held during the 2020 World Championship in Zurich, but has since been moved to a virtual format expected to take place on 24 June.
The second is the IIHF Semi-Annual Congress, which traditionally takes place in September. The Semi-Annual Congress this year was also exceptional in that it was to be an election Congress where the IIHF’s MNAs would choose a new president and Council.
However, due to the likely inability of the IIHF and its MNAs to travel the IIHF Semi-Annual Congress as originally planned in St. Petersburg, Russia in late September 2020, the IIHF Council will propose a one-year extension to its existing mandate, with new elections to take place during the 2021 IIHF Semi-Annual Congress (date TBD). The IIHF will also look into the possibility of also holding the Semi-Annual Congress in a virtual format.
If accepted by the Extra-Ordinary Congress, the extension to the Council term will also apply to the IIHF’s Executive Board, the Disciplinary Board, and the various IIHF Committees and Working Groups.
Women’s Olympic Qualification
As COVID-19 has already pushed the final qualification stage of the men’s ice hockey event for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing, the IIHF Council will also submit a set of recommendations to Congress that will affect the Women’s Olympic Qualification tournaments, set to begin in 2021.
A new proposal for a three-stage Women’s Olympic Qualification will be voted on in Congress. The full schedule for the Women’s Olympic Qualification will be released pending Congress approval. This includes a proposal to move the Women’s Final Olympic Qualification to August 2021, the same time as the Men’s Olympic Qualification tournament.
2021 IIHF Continental Cup
A new format proposal for the 2021 IIHF Continental Cup will be voted on by the Extra-Ordinary Congress. The proposal is to condense the tournament by eliminating the opening round stage and running new three-stage format, beginning with a qualification round from 16-18 October 2020. This will be followed by a group stage with 16 teams divided into four groups, with the winners facing off in the Final Round on 8-10 January 2021.
A special dispensation will be made for tournament organizers and participating teams with respect to cancellation and/or non-participation. A tournament organizer may cancel the tournament up to eight weeks prior to the start without facing sanctions. Teams may also decline to participate within the same deadline. In the event that a tournament cannot be played, the highest seed will be promoted to the next round.