The IIHF Council has voted to confirm Riga, Latvia, as the sole host for the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, following the decision to withdraw the tournament from Minsk, Belarus.
The IIHF Council cited the ongoing challenges placed by COVID-19 together with various technical reasons for its decision to keep the tournament in one city. With continued uncertainty surrounding international travel restrictions, the Council believes that keeping all teams in Riga throughout the tournament and avoiding travel between two host countries is the safest and most cost-effective way to operate the event.
The 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship will take place within Riga under the following conditions:
- The main venue will be the Arena Riga in Riga and will host Group B, two quarter-final games, the semi-final round and the medal round
- The second venue will be the Olympic Sports Centre, which will be converted into a 6,000-capacity ice rink and will host Group A and two quarter-final games
- The Daugava Ice Rink, approximately 10 minutes from Arena Riga, will serve as the practice arena with two ice sheets. The arena is currently under construction and scheduled to be finished by the end of March
- All 16 participating teams will be housed in one hotel
- At present time, there are no updates concerning the game schedule
- With teams housed in one location and the Arena Riga and Olympic Sports Centre competition venues located approximately 150 metres away from each other, the IIHF would be able to implement a bubble concept if needed.
Conversely, should the COVID-19 situation in Latvia improve to the point that spectators would be allowed to watch games, the IIHF together with the Local Organizing Committee would be prepared to initiate a ticketing offer within three-days’ notice of government approval to host fans in the venues.
The decision comes following a review process by the IIHF Office, which also examined hosting offers from Bratislava, Slovakia, and Herning, Denmark.
“I would like to thank our members from Denmark and Slovakia for their willingness to assume hosting duties for the World Championship on such short notice,” said IIHF President René Fasel. “But ultimately the Council believes that keeping the whole tournament in one country allows us to be flexible. We can find cost-effective solutions to implement a bubble concept, but also we can put ourselves in a ready position to welcome fans to the World Championship if it is safe to do so.”