HALIFAX -- The best women’s hockey players in the world won’t be coming to Nova Scotia until May, after the IIHF Women’s World Championship announced another delay.

The International Ice Hockey Federation announced in a statement Thursday that the 2021 Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship has been postponed to May 6-16, with games scheduled to be held in Halifax and Truro.

Halifax and Truro were originally scheduled to host the 10-country 2020 World Championship from March 31-April 10, 2020, but that was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The IIHF awarded Nova Scotia the tournament again, with an original date of April 7-17, but says the tournament had to be postponed again due to ‘the difficult circumstances and challenges for ice hockey and international travel posed by the COVID-19 pandemic’.

“We know how important this event is in the women’s ice hockey calendar, especially considering that we could not have a tournament last season and now with the Olympics on the horizon,” said IIHF President René Fasel. “Our Member National Associations expressed concerns over the associated costs that come with operating a tournament in the current global environment, and I am glad we were able fill the gap and ensure the Women’s World Championship can take place with all 10 teams.”

The IIHF also revealed in their statement that final approvals for Nova Scotia to host the tournament have not been received by Canadian or Nova Scotian health authorities, and no exemptions to the federal quarantine act have been granted.

“Hockey Canada knows it will have strict support from all participating Federations as it relates to adhering to the final health and safety plan that will focus on quarantining, COVID-19 testing, single room isolation, masking, proper hygiene and social distancing,” said Scott Smith, president and chief operating officer of Hockey Canada. “Hosting a successful Women’s World Championship this season means ensuring the health and safety of everyone involved, which continues to be our top priority. Hockey Canada and the Host Organizing Committee are committed to working with the appropriate health authorities and listening to the direction of medical experts to build a safe and strong hosting plan.”

The IIHF statement says they anticipate a limited number of fans may be able to attend games in Halifax and Truro, but the exact capacity will be known closer to the tournament. Fans who have already purchased tickets will have priority to attend.

The tournament schedule will see Halifax’s Scotiabank Centre host Group A, made up of teams from the United States, Canada, Finland, Russia, and Switzerland.

Group B, featuring Japan, the Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark and Hungary will play at Truro’s Rath Eastlink Community Centre. 

Canada's 35-woman training camp is currently taking place in Halifax and set in a secure, self-isolated environment that is closed to both the media and the public.

The United States has won five straight tournaments, dating back to the 2013 edition in Ottawa (the tournament is not held during Olympic years).

Canada, who has won a record 10 golds, last won the tournament in 2012 in Burlington, VT.