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IIHF cancels world hockey championships over pandemic

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IIHF cancels world hockey championships due to coronavirus (0:54)

Emily Kaplan explains why the IIHF made the difficult decision to cancel the world hockey championships. (0:54)

The 2020 IIHF men's hockey world championships have been canceled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The event was supposed to take place in May in Zurich and Lausanne, Switzerland.

"This is a harsh reality to face for the international ice hockey family, but one that we must accept," IIHF president Rene Fasel said in a statement. "The coronavirus is a global problem and requires major efforts by government bodies to combat its spread. The IIHF must do all it can to support this fight. We have to set sport aside for now and support both the government bodies and the ice hockey family."

The IIHF said in a statement that there are "obviously no possibilities" to relocate the tournament to another country.

"The potential scenario of a postponement of the World Championship in Switzerland to another year is a matter that must be discussed within the Congress given the fact that the host countries for the forthcoming IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship are fixed until Year 2025," the IIHF said. "Therefore, such a decision will not be forthcoming until Congress is next in session."

The IIHF said the refund ticket policy for fans would be clarified "as soon as possible" by the organizing committee. The IIHF also said it had implemented a "robust insurance and risk management program" for the tournament to protect the substantial revenues the event typically brings in.

"These revenue protection measures have responded accordingly," the IIHF said in its statement.

The IIHF's spring slate has been wiped nearly entirely clean. The women's world championships, which were supposed to begin later this month in Nova Scotia, have already been canceled. The IIHF already canceled six other tournaments following an emergency meeting of the IIHF Council earlier this month in Hungary.

The men's world championship is one of the key international hockey events every year. While it is not an NHL-sanctioned event, many of the top players in the world tend to go once their teams are eliminated from the playoffs.

Earlier this month, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told ESPN that the league wouldn't issue a mandate telling players not to go.

"Obviously we would make sure that everyone is aware of the situation, as well as best practices," Daly said. "I can't foresee issuing mandates, so each responsible entity would be responsible for making its own decisions. But we want to make sure everyone makes informed decisions."