Coronavirus: Will UK ice hockey be affected?

It’s been making its way across the world and now it’s starting to take its toll on sport so the question is, will ice hockey in the UK be affected as the coronavirus continues to hit?

Now, this is not one of those articles that’s going to panic and claim we’re all going to die in the face of worsening conditions. That’s what the tabloids are for.

In the UK, at the time of writing, the number of confirmed cases was at just under 400 with only six fatalities – all reported to be elderly victims with underlying health conditions.

Elsewhere, we’ve seen Italy, as a country, basically quarantine themselves and other countries, particularly in the Far East hit hard by the effects of the Covid-19 virus.

In Europe, we’ve started to see sport suspended such as Italy’s Serie A, the top flight in football while in Spain, football games are to be played behind closed doors for the next couple of weeks. Even the Premier League game between Manchester City and Arsenal to take place tonight (Wednesday) has been put off.

Rugby’s Six Nations championship, which was meant to finish this weekend, sees two of their three fixtures postponed, not to mention many others out there.

It’s affecting ice hockey globally as well with various World Championship campaigns cancelled throughout, including the full Women’s tournament and organisation is already looking to 2021.

Sporting events across Europe have either been cancelled or being played behind closed door, like Valencia’s Champions League football match with Atalanta (PHOTO: Valencia CFF)

The play-offs in Germany and Austria have also been cancelled, with the governing bodies stating there won’t be champions this season as a result.

As things stand, the Men’s World Championship in Switzerland, featuring Great Britain, scheduled for May is still going ahead, but it’s by no means certain it will definitely happen and will be monitored as time goes on.

The UK, however, is a different story and until the call off of the Manchester City-Arsenal game, the only effect for British sporting teams so far has been in travelling abroad and having to adhere to playing behind closed doors.

While the number of cases are rising here, there are fans starting to worry about the Nottingham play-off weekend going ahead in April and the possibility of it being called off.

Given how far away we are from it, it’s a natural concern and under the current Government advice, it’s as you were unless otherwise stated.

If restrictions are to be placed on the amount of people who attend public gatherings, then it could become an issue.

If the Government restrict sporting events to a 10,000 attendance, it’s all good. Half that figure is workable.  Anything less would start to cause a nightmare.

The DEL in Germany cancelled the rest of their season and have announced there will be no champion this season

Ice Hockey UK issued a joint statement last week alongside SIH and EIHA to say they were monitoring the ongoing Government advice and shared the safety information that would help curb the spread.

Until the numbers really escalate – and the evidence suggests it’s bound to really affect our daily lives – we’ll start to see football, rugby or any other larger scale social event or concert postponed or cancelled. 

Only when that begins, we should start to see more pro-activity in how we deal with our own competitions and the impact it will have on fans who have already went to the expense of travel, accommodation and tickets.

You would at least hope IHUK, the Elite League and the other ruling bodies have been having the conversations behind the scenes and planning for things “in the event of.”

The one thing we don’t need is decisions to be made in reaction and risk turning something that should be planned ahead for into a disaster.

Until then, all we can do is sit tight and carrying on with our business and only deal with things when they need to be dealt with and that involves not stock piling toilet rolls and hand sanitiser.

Let’s enjoy the ice hockey while we can and hope the impact on the UK is minimal and deal with whatever happens in a reasonable, mature fashion and keep doing what we’ve been advised to do:

  • Wash your hands frequently and regularly
  • Refrain from unnecessary contact, if possible – e.g. shaking hands and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • If you experience any symptoms, e.g., difficulty breathing, cough and fever, seek medical advice from NHS 111. Don’t return to action until you are given the all-clear.
  • Throw away any tissue after use, to prevent contamination – ‘Catch It, Bin It, Kill It’
  • Don’t share drinks from the same bottle or glass
  • Clean and disinfect your equipment
  • Implement good hygiene, thus mitigating your risk of catching the virus
  • Avoid travel to any countries where government warnings are in place

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