Worlds come back to Prague

Czechs to host 2015 IIHF World Championship in Prague & Ostrava

21-05-10
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The World Championship comes back to Prague (pictured: the O2 Arena) and Ostrava in 2015. Photo: IIHF Archive

COLOGNE – The Czech Republic was allocated the 2015 IIHF World Championship at the Annual Congress in Cologne on Friday. It will be the tenth time that Czechoslovakia/Czech Republic has hosted the IIHF’s flagship event. The 2011 IIHF World Championship Division I tournaments were allocated to Hungary (Budapest) and Ukraine (Kyiv), respectively.

There was no question which championship presentation from Thursday made the best impression on the congress delegates from the 68 IIHF member national associations. The congress’ voting resulted in a clear cut 84-22 victory for the Czechs. The other applicant was Ukraine with two venues in the capital of Kyiv.

“We have been working on this presentation for the last three years,” said Martin Urban, General Secretary of the Czech Ice Hockey Association. “We last hosted in 2004, so it’s about time.”

The tournament will be co-hosted by Prague and Ostrava, just as in 2004. That year, the Czechs set an all-time attendance record of 552,097, a record Urban hopes to break. “Of course, that will be our goal, but it will be tough. In 2004, the arena was new, but now we have everything ready in plenty of time.”

Prague has the distinction of hosting more World Championship games – 284 – than any other city in the world, the first coming in 1933.

The 18,000-seat O2 Arena, formerly known as Sazka Arena, in the Czech capital of Prague will be the main venue of the event. The arena was built for the 2004 Worlds. It will be used for two preliminary-round groups, one qualification-round group, three relegation-round games, the quarterfinals, semi-finals and the medal games.

Ostrava in the Moravian-Silesian region, about 360 kilometres from Prague, will host two preliminary-round groups, a qualification-round group and three relegation-round games. Games will be held in the ČEZ Aréna with a capacity for 9,800 spectators and a practice rink attached to the main arena. The arena was built in 1986 and renovated for the 2004 Worlds.

The next step will be for Urban to put his organizing committee team in place. In 2004, he was both General Secretary of the Association and General Secretary of the Organizing Committee. “I can tell you, it’s a very tough job to do both. I’ll be involved, but I don’t know in what capacity yet.”

Also involved is sure to be former goalie Petr Briza, who worked with Urban over today’s presentation for the last several months.

Tomas Kral, the president of the Czech Ice Hockey Association, was appointed Chairman of the Organizing Committee.

Next year’s 2011 IIHF World Championship will be played in Bratislava and Košice, Slovakia, April 29 to May 15, 2011, with the following 16 teams (groups TBA): Austria, Belarus, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, Norway, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, United States.

The 2011 IIHF World Championship Division I groups and venues were announced too on Friday, while other tournaments will be assigned when the congress continues tomorrow.

Division I Group A in Budapest, Hungary, April 17-23, 2011: Italy, Hungary, Japan, Netherlands, Korea, Spain.

Division I Group B in Kyiv, Ukraine, April 17-23, 2011: Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Poland, Great Britain, Lithuania, Estonia.

The World Championships for the following years were previously assigned to Helsinki (Finland) and Stockholm (Sweden) in 2012, to Stockholm (Sweden) and Finland (city TBA) in 2013, to Minsk (Belarus) in 2014 and to Prague and Ostrava (Czech Republic) in 2015.

Ukraine might bid again for the 2016 IIHF World Championship. Other countries that have announced bids for 2016 include Denmark (Copenhagen and Herning) and Slovenia (two venues in Ljubljana).

ANDREW PODNIEKS, MARTIN MERK

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