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COVID-19: Halifax mayor calls cancellation of IIHF hockey championships ‘the right decision’

Click to play video 'Halifax mayor disappointed, but understands women’s hockey cancellation' Halifax mayor disappointed, but understands women’s hockey cancellation
IIHF cancels women's world hockey championships in Nova Scotia due to coronavirus concerns.

As fear mounts that the coronavirus could turn into a global pandemic, international events like the IIHF women’s world hockey championships are being cancelled.

Halifax Mayor Mike Savage says the decision by the IIHF to cancel the women’s world hockey championships to be held in Halifax and Truro “disappointing” but ultimately it’s “the right decision.”

READ MORE: Women’s hockey world championships in N.S. cancelled due to coronavirus threat

The world championships were set to get underway later this month in Halifax and Truro, but was cancelled Saturday after IIHF officials took the advice from the Nova Scotia Health Authority and chief medical officer of health, Dr. Robert Strang, to postpone the tournament due to the spread of the coronavirus worldwide.

“This was a decision that had to be taken by the IIHF and Hockey Canada,” said Savage. “I know they had consultations with the province and the public health authority and it’s a disappointing decision but it’s also the right decision.”

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The news is not only disappointing news for hockey fans, but also for the more than 350 local organizers who were working hard over the past 18 months to host the event.

“Certainly it’s a disappointment for a lot of fans and it’s certainly disappointing for our host organizing committee as well,” said Grant MacDonald, general manager of the 2020 IIHF women’s world hockey championships. “To be so close to the drop of the puck and the opening game, that certainly would be best described as a disappointment for everybody.”

Hockey Canada held a teleconference to confirm the cancellation Saturday, saying they were advised by the Nova Scotia Health Authority to postpone the tournament.

Given the advice, the IIHF made the final decision.

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Tom Renney, CEO of Hockey Canada, said in a press statement that due to the risk of the coronavirus and the recommendation of the provinces chief medical officer of health, the IIHF determined the cancellation was the right move at this time.

“This decision was made in the best interest of the players, fans, staff, volunteers and the general public, and we fully support the IIHF’s decision,” said Renney.

In 2003 during the SARS outbreak, the IIHF women’s world hockey championships were cancelled when the games were to be played in Beijing.

Here in Halifax and in Truro, a lot of work has been going on behind the scenes to host these world championships.

The host committee along with Events East, Hockey Nova Scotia, the province and both cities were all involved in the organizing.

“They have worked so long and so hard to make this event happen but certainly we understand the reasoning behind it and support the decision,” said Halifax deputy mayor Lisa Blackburn. “We just look forward to having them all back in 2021.”

READ MORE: N.S. student hoping for reimbursement after losing $4k due to COVID-19 outbreak

Currently, there are no reported cases of COVID-19 in Nova Scotia, but the provinces chief medical officer of health Dr. Robert strang said Friday at a press conference, it’s quite probable” there will be a positive case at some point.

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According to Hockey Canada, Halifax and Truro will host the tournament next year.

All tickets already sold will be honoured then. Anyone looking refunds can contact Hockey Canada.