March 31, 2003
ZURICH, Switzerland - ZUThe International Ice Hockey Federation today decided to cancel the 2003 IIHF Women's World Championship, which was to be held in Beijing, China on April 3-9, due to the increased health risks caused by the SARS pneumonia. Brown seniors Pam Dreyer (Eagle River, AK) and Kim Insalaco (Rochester, NY) were to play in the Championship for the U.S. National Team.
The decision was taken after further consultation with the IIHF's Chief Medical Officer Mark Aubry and also other medical experts close to the IIHF.
"Earlier last week we were concerned about the situation, but our daily monitoring of the updates delivered by the World Health Organization indicated clearly that the Beijing area was not affected," says IIHF President René Fasel.
"The situation took a drastic turn to the worse in the last few days and again after consulting our medical experts, we decided that cancelling or postponing the championship was the only responsible thing," says Fasel. "Now, the present situation gives us reasons to be extraordinarily concerned."
"The health of the athletes must always be our prime concern and with the new reports regarding the spread of the pneumonia and the strong medical advice we received, this was really the only decision we could take. We were no longer in a position to guarantee the health of the athletes and team staff."
Teams from Switzerland, Sweden, Russia and Germany had traveled to Beijing already last week while Canada, USA and Finland were about to go there at the beginning of this coming week. The eighth participating team was host China. The four teams, which are in Beijing, were advised to return home as soon as possible.
The IIHF will decide shortly whether to hold the 2003 IIHF World Women Championship at a later date.