The women's world hockey championships in Canada were canceled Saturday because of the new coronavirus. International Ice Hockey Federation President René Fasel tells the AP the decision was made by conference call. The two-week tournament was set to open March 31, with venues in Halifax and Truro, Nova Scotia. Fasel says by phone that concerns were raised regarding the health of players and fans attending the tournament in light of the global spread of the virus. Hockey Canada, the sport's domestic ruling body, was in the process of informing its officials and partners of the cancellation. Fasel notes the difficulties some of the eight nations will encounter in making travel plans, such as Japan, where almost all sports events and large gatherings have been canceled.
"It's scary," Fasel says. The women's worlds were canceled once before—the 2003 tournament in Beijing because of the SARS outbreak in China. Fasel says the status of other upcoming international hockey tournaments will be determined in the coming month, starting with the under-18 men's championships in Michigan from April 16-26. The cancellation of the women's tournament comes at a time when women’s hockey in North America has already been disrupted. In May, more than 200 of the world's top players protested the demise of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League and formed the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association, to demand the formation of a single league with a sustainable economic model. (See what's happening on a coronavirus-stricken cruise ship.)