The Women's Ice Hockey World Championship in Canada has been postponed by a year ©Hockey Canada

The 2020 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Women's World Championship in Canada has been postponed by a year due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Competition was due to be shared by two cities in Nova Scotia – Halifax and Truro – between April 12 and 18.

Due to the decision, the second-tier IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championship Division I Group A event in Angers in France has also been called off.

This was due to take place between the same dates.

Halifax and Truro will now play host to the flagship event in 2021, subject to rubber-stamping by the IIHF Congress.

IIHF officials came to their decision during an extraordinary meeting, and following advice from health experts.

"It is with great regret that we must take this action," said IIHF President René Fasel. 

"It was not an easy decision to make, as we were greatly looking forward to hosting this tournament in Canada.

"Nevertheless, the decision has been made due to safety concerns for the well-being of players, officials and spectators.

"Ultimately the IIHF Council feels that there has not been enough of an improvement to the coronavirus situation to allow us to safely host a 10-team international tournament within this time-frame. 

"We look forward to coming to Canada in 2021."

The men's World Championship, scheduled for Switzerland between May 8 and 24, is currently still going ahead as planned.

The decision will have an impact on Beijing 2022 qualification ©Getty Images
The decision will have an impact on Beijing 2022 qualification ©Getty Images

Members of the ruling IIHF Council will meet again in the middle of this month to assess the situation with regards to the tournament and other events.

With the top six women's teams in the world rankings due to book a spot at Beijing 2022 after the event in Canada, Olympic qualification has been affected.

"This decision will have an effect on the scheduling of the Women's Olympic qualification tournaments," added Fasel. 

"The IIHF Competition and Coordination Committee will review the implications of this cancellation and propose recommendations to the Council."

Canada has so far reported more than 60 cases of coronavirus since the origin of the crisis in China.

The IIHF had already cancelled four Challenge Cup of Asia tournaments because of the outbreak.

Around the world, there have now been more than 110,000 reported cases and more than 3,800 deaths.

"This decision was made in the best interest of the players, fans, staff, volunteers and the general public, and we fully support the IIHF's decision," said Hockey Canada chief executive Tom Renney.

"Our organisation has been assured by the IIHF that it will honour Hockey Canada's hosting agreement and that the IIHF Women's World Championship will return to Halifax and Truro in 2021, subject to formal approval by the IIHF Congress. 

"A tremendous amount of work has been put forth by our athletes, staff, the host Organising Committee and our partners, and we look forward to continuing to prepare for this world-class event when it returns to Nova Scotia in 2021."