Canadian provincial officials have decided to cancel the 2021 Women's World Ice Hockey Championship, the International Ice Hockey Federation announced Wednesday while holding out hope of staging it later this year.
Covid-19 forced the event, which had first been set for Halifax and Truro, Nova Scotia, in 2020, to be postponed from April 7-17 to May 6-16 before Nova Scotia officials delivered a cancel order due to pandemic issues.
"While we are disappointed with the cancellation, we understand the decision was made with the health and safety of all participants and the community at large as the top priority," said a joint statement from Hockey Canada chief executive Tom Renney, president Scott Smith and IIHF president Rene Fasel.
"We support the decision that has been made."
Fasel said wiping out the event for May did not mean the worlds could not be staged later this year, although the Beijing Winter Olympics women's hockey tournament looms next February.
"This is very disappointing news to receive with just a few weeks until the tournament was to begin," 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.
"In the end, we must accept the decision of the 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."
Renney and Smith said that if there is a 2021 women's world tournament, Canada wants to host it.
"Despite not being able to host the event in Nova Scotia, Hockey Canada remains committed to hosting the IIHF Women's World Championship this year," the statement said. "We will explore all options to host the event in the coming months, if it is deemed safe to do so."
The United States has won the past five women's world titles and the Americans are the reigning Olympic champions after beating four-time defending champion Canada in the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games final.
Canada, which won the first eight world titles and owns 10 overall, last took the title in 2012.
"We look forward to getting the chance to compete for a world championship at the appropriate time later this year," said Gina Kingsbury, director of Hockey Canada's women's national teams.