IIHF President René Fasel has written a letter to the ice hockey family amid the coronavirus pandemic ©IIHF

International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) President René Fasel has said the world governing body will evaluate the implications of the cancellation of this year's Men’s World Championship and other tournaments, due to the coronavirus pandemic, in the "coming weeks".

The 2020 Men’s World Championship in Zürich and Lausanne had been due to take place between May 8 and 24, before being called off on Saturday (March 21).

Switzerland is among the European nations to have introduced measures banning mass gatherings in recent weeks in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus.

It is the first time since 1988 that the event will not take place.

During the 1980s, the competition was not held in Olympic years.

The next IIHF Congress has also been postponed until further notice, with the event initially having been scheduled to be held from May 21 to 23, alongside the World Championship.

Whether an Annual Congress in Zürich can be held at a later date is set to be discussed by the IIHF Council.

"In the coming weeks, the IIHF Council will communicate and discuss using all available means to evaluate the organisational and sportive implications of the 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship and other tournament cancellations, and also to determine the feasibility of holding an Annual Congress in Zürich at a later date," Fasel wrote in a letter addressed to the ice hockey family.

"We will try our best to help ensure that those whose tournaments were cancelled will have another opportunity to host in 2021. 

"But most likely this will not be possible for all tournaments.

"The IIHF Competition and Coordination Committee is in the process of evaluating the sportive implications of all the cancelled IIHF World Championship tournaments, and the effect this will have on the tournament seeding, the IIHF World Ranking, and the Beijing 2022 women’s Olympic qualification tournaments."

The IIHF Men's World Championship has been held annually since 1989 ©Getty Images
The IIHF Men's World Championship has been held annually since 1989 ©Getty Images

He added: "Ultimately, all of these decisions will need to be taken at the IIHF Annual Congress, which as mentioned is postponed until further notice. 

"The IIHF Council will continue to monitor the coronavirus pandemic, and hope to be able to reschedule the Annual Congress at a later date."

Ice hockey has been heavily impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

The 2020 IIHF Women's World Championship in Canada was postponed by a year due to the outbreak.

Competition was due to be shared by two cities in Nova Scotia - Halifax and Truro - from March 31 to April 10.

Both the second-tier events for men and women have also been called off, along with the IIHF Men’s Under-18 World Championship in Michigan in the United States.

"This is a harsh reality for us to face," Fasel said.

"The coronavirus epidemic has severely disrupted the international ice hockey season, causing loss of revenue for tournament organisers and eliminating the opportunity for players to compete and represent their country internationally. 

"The pandemic has also forced leagues to pause and/or cancel their seasons outright.

"The IIHF cancellations have been felt at almost all levels, with dozens of tournaments in the men’s, women’s, and men’s under-18 level, along with all of our Challenge Cup of Asia tournaments.

"The IIHF is extremely grateful to its membership for its support and understanding throughout this difficult time."