The World Para Ice Hockey A-Pool Championships, originally scheduled for early May in Ostrava, Czech Republic, have been postponed to 19-26 June due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
World Para Ice Hockey, in collaboration with the Local Organising Committee (LOC), will use the extra preparation time to implement comprehensive health and safety protocols throughout the event in compliance with local and national guidelines.
“World Para Ice Hockey is looking forward to bringing the World Championships back to Ostrava, and doing so in accordance with all health and safety procedures to ensure a safe event for all athletes, teams and staff involved,” said World Para Ice Hockey Manager Michelle Laflamme.
“The World Championships will provide an exciting opportunity for people around the world to tune-in and witness the first Para ice hockey international event since the COVID-19 pandemic began,” Laflamme added.
In Ostrava, the top eight-ranked teams will compete for a world title and qualification slots for the Beijing 2022 Paralympic Winter Games. The top five finishers will automatically qualify for the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics; the last three finishers will take part in a qualification tournament to be held at a later date to try to earn their spots in Beijing.
Ostravar Arena will host the event for the second consecutive time and third time overall after staging the most successful tournament to date in 2019, drawing unprecedented media and broadcast coverage around the world. The city also held the World Championships in 2009.
“The tournament will take place according to strict health and safety measures,” said Jiri Sindler, Head of the Ostrava 2021 LOC. “We are already receiving great interest from fans in purchasing tickets, and we thank all of our fans for their support, however we will not be launching ticket sales at this time. We are working intensively to ensure that our fans will be able to watch the entire World Championships online.”
The USA will enter the tournament as the defending Paralympic and world champions, and will be joined by Paralympic and world silver medallists Canada, Paralympic and world bronze medallists South Korea, host nation Czech Republic, and Norway and Italy. Russia and Slovakia, which finished in the top two spots at last year’s B-Pool World Championships in Berlin, complete the line-up.
With more than 300,000 inhabitants, Ostrava is the third largest city in the Czech Republic and the capital of the Moravian-Silesian region. Ostravar Arena, formerly known as the Culture and Sports Palace, was first opened in 1986 and has hosted many national, European and World Championships, as well as concerts and other popular events. The Arena was modernized in 2003 and is home to the HC Vitkovice Steel ice hockey team.