No Decision on Hockey Worlds Replacement Host -- Federation Focus

Also: Cairo supplants Minsk as host for UIPM's flagship event; FIFA reveals timeline for choosing 2026 World Cup venues

(ATR) The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) has yet to determine a potential replacement city for Minsk, which was stripped of co-hosting the event on Jan. 18. The IIHF Council convened on Tuesday, but despite speculation no decision was taken.

Around the Rings has learned that the delay has to do with hockey leaders requiring more time to travel and evaluate cities that have offered to step in on short notice and co-host the championship with Riga, Latvia.

IIHF leaders initially said they would consider the possibility of Riga as a single venue to facilitate COVID-19 safety regulations and limit team travel.

Countries being reported to co-host with Latvia include Slovakia, which hosted the 2019 championship and Denmark, which welcomed the event in 2018. At one stage, the Czech Republic was also in the discussion.

IIHF President Rene Fasel and the IIHF Council withdrew the event from Belarus and its authoritarian president Alexander Lukashenko because "it is currently impossible to ensure the welfare of teams, spectators and Belarusian officials."

IIHF partners Skoda, Nivea and Liqui Moli had threatened to pull their sponsorships if Fasel kept the tournament in Belarus, amid the political turmoil that persists.

The IIHF Council is expected to meet again next week, though it remains to be determined when a final decision will be made. The tournament is scheduled to run from May 21 until June 6.

Cairo Replaces Minsk as Host for UIPM Flagship Event

While the IIHF ponders a replacement for Minsk, the Modern Pentathlon federation (UIPM) has already found a new host to supplant the Belarusian capital for its 2021Pentathlon and Laser Run World Championships.

Less than a week after dropping Minsk "due to special unforeseen circumstances in Belarus", UIPM announced on Tuesday that Cairo would stage the event, which will still be held from June 7-13.

Cairohosted the 2017 Pentathlon World Championships and has become a perennial World Cup venue in recent years.

The UIPM 2021 Pentathlon World Championships will be the final qualification opportunity for the rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Egypt will also stage the UIPM 2021 Junior and Youth World Championships in Alexandria in July, five months later than originally scheduled after a COVID-19 Coronavirus-enforced postponement.

The new UIPM competition season is scheduled to get underway with UIPM 2021 Pentathlon World Cup Budapest from March 24-28.

FIFA Unveils Timeline for 2026 World Cup Venues

The next stage of the venue selection process for the 2026 FIFA World Cup in Canada, Mexico and the USA will begin at the end of February.

FIFA said on Tuesday that the federation and the host associations for each of the 23 candidate cities would begin holding virtual meetings with each stadium to go over infrastructure details next month.

Beginning in April, FIFA and the host associations will launch targeted virtual discussions with each candidate host city.

Venue visits would begin in July with the final list to be decided by the FIFA Council in the last quarter of this year.

All of this is subject to interruptions caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

FIFA is expected to select a total of 16 stadiums for the 2026 World Cup. There are currently 23 candidate host cities in the running, with 17 in the USA and three each in Canada and Mexico.

The 2026 World Cup will be the first to feature 48 teams and will include 80 games, 60 of them to be played in the United States and 10 each in Canada and Mexico. The USA will host all the games from the quarterfinal stage.

Written by Brian Pinelli and Gerard Farek

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