The 2021 IIHF Women's World Championships in Nova Scotia have been canceled for May, it was announced Wednesday.
The tournament was scheduled to take place May 6-16 with strict COVID-19 protocols. The IIHF and Hockey Canada said in a joint statement that they would try to find new dates for the tournament this summer.
"This is very disappointing news to receive with just a few weeks until the tournament was to begin," IIHF president Rene Fasel said in a statement. "We strongly believe that we had the adequate safety measures in place to protect players, officials, spectators, and all residents in Halifax and Truro, based on the IIHF and Hockey Canada's experiences from hosting the IIHF World Junior Championship in Edmonton.
"In the end, we must accept the decision of the [Nova Scotia] government. This does not mean that we will not have a Women's World Championship in 2021. We owe it to every single player that was looking forward to getting back on the ice after such a difficult year that we do everything possible to ensure this tournament can be moved to new dates and played this year."
Team USA, which has won five straight worlds and eight of the past nine tournaments, was at its pre-tournament camp in Maine, and players were on the ice when news started trickling out, a source told ESPN.
"We respect the concern for the health and safety of everyone involved and share the heartbreak of our athletes and staff who put so much into preparing for the world championship," USA Hockey said in a statement. "We will remain optimistic for the tournament to be conducted this summer as the IIHF and Hockey Canada explore alternate dates and locations."
The event was postponed in 2020 due to the pandemic. With this cancellation, there have been no top-level international women's hockey competitions in the past year.
Meanwhile, the International Ice Hockey Federation staged a men's under-20 tournament in a bubble in Edmonton in December, and a men's U18 tournament in Texas is scheduled for later this month, as well as a men's world championships in Latvia.