The Under-18 World Championship has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic ©Getty Images

The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) has cancelled the Under-18 World Championship in Michigan in the United States due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Set for April 16 to 26, the men's tournament was to be played in Plymouth and Ann Arbor, but US restrictions on arrivals from Europe and the further spread of the virus globally mean it will no longer go ahead as planned.

“The ability to hold the event is now beyond the control of the IIHF, USA Hockey, and the European teams that would need to travel to the United States for the event, and to camps prior to the event while the United States coronavirus related travel ban is in effect,” said IIHF President René Fasel.

Michigan currently has a ban on mass gatherings of more than 100 people and USA Hockey announced it will issue refunds on purchased tickets.

The IIHF Council will have a conference call on Tuesday (March 17) to discuss the status of the men's IIHF World Championship tournaments scheduled for April and May in Slovenia and Poland.

Hosts Sweden were crowned last year's champions ©Getty Images
Hosts Sweden were crowned last year's champions ©Getty Images

The women's World Championship, which was set to be hosted in Canada, has already been postponed until 2021.

Tournaments in the men's World Championship Division II and Division III in Croatia, Iceland, Luxembourg and South Africa have also been postponed.

North America's National Hockey League - the sport's premier franchise competition - has been suspended and leagues in Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Switzerland have ended their seasons early.

More than 162,000 people worldwide have been infected by coronavirus, with more than 3,000 of those cases coming from the US where 60 people have died.