IIHF unveils tournament list till 2026


New host announced for IIHF World Championships Image: Tampere Deck Arena, Roopeank, CC BY-SA 4.0

The 2022 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Annual Congress has allocated tournaments for the upcoming season including the 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship that will be co-hosted by Tampere, Finland, and Riga, Latvia. The 2026 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship will take place in Zürich and Fribourg, Switzerland.

The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) is a worldwide governing body for ice hockey and in-line hockey. It is based in Zürich, Switzerland, and has 82 member-countries. The IIHF maintains the IIHF World Ranking based on international ice hockey tournaments.

The Ice Hockey World Championships are an annual international men’s ice hockey tournament organized by the International Ice Hockey Federation. First officially held at the 1920 Summer Olympics, it is the sport’s highest profile annual international tournament.

Worlds return to Tampere and Riga

The ‘IIHF’ stated that the Congress approved a joint bid of Finland and Latvia to host the 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship replacing St. Petersburg after the hosting rights had been withdrawn from Russia.

The next Worlds will take place at the biggest venues of two of the world’s most passionate hockey countries in Tampere and Riga from May 12th to May 28th, 2023.

The ‘IIHF’ further stated that Finland and Latvia are ready to fill in at short notice and will use the organizational experiences and staff from the 2021 and 2022 editions.

Finnish Ice Hockey Association President Harri Nummela said about the bid of the two Baltic Sea nations, “It is a privilege and we are grateful to jointly host the 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.”

Remarked Latvian Ice Hockey Federation President Aigars Kalvitis, “We are happy for your trust and are ready to host the World Championship with the best conditions for the teams and the best atmosphere for the fans.”

The newly opened 15,000-capacity Nokia Arena in Tampere will serve as the main venue as per the ongoing 2022 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship and will host one preliminary -round group, two quarter-finals, all semi-final, and medal games. Up to 11,695 fans have filled the arena during the current tournament and in total 219,124 have come to the 30 games in Tampere.

For co-host Latvia it will be the chance to host the World Championship with fans since last year’s event had to be played in mostly empty arenas due to COVID-19 restrictions. Arēna Rīga with a capacity of up to 9,550 spectators will serve as the Latvian venue same as in 2006 and 2021 and will host one preliminary-round group and two quarter-final games. Fan zones are planned next to both arenas. Latvia is well-known for its passionate fans traveling to the World Championship and thanks to them also had the second-highest average attendance at the current World Championship only behind host Finland.

Riga and Tampere are 501 kilometers apart and connected with a 70-minute direct scheduled flight between the two Cities. Teams who have to move to the cross-over quarter-finals or to the semi-finals will be transported with charter flights.

Originally, there was a second co-hosting bid of Budapest, Hungary and Ljubljana, Slovenia, with a site visit by the IIHF already conducted last month. However, Hungary withdrew the bid on May 23rd due to lack of Government guarantees, which was acknowledged by the IIHF. Therefore, no vote was needed but the two countries still used the opportunity to present the bid for future considerations mentioning 2028 as a potential year and receiving encouraging ratings for their bid and passion.

Switzerland to host in 2026

The Congress approved Switzerland as host country of the 2026 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, which will take place in Zürich and Fribourg from May 15th to May 31st, 2026. The Swiss were originally slated to host in 2020 but the tournament got canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions. No vote was needed as the only other applicant, Kazakhstan, had earlier withdrawn its bid.

The 12,000-capacity Swiss Life Arena in Zürich, which will open later this year in the Altstetten district of the City, will serve as the main venue for the event. The arena will offer a seating capacity for 11,200 fans for ice hockey and have the largest video cube of an ice arena in Europe. Zürich is the country’s most populous City with 400,000 inhabitants in the City and 1.5 million in the canton.

About a 90-minute car or train ride away, Fribourg will serve as the secondary venue for the event. The city of 40,000 (320,000 in the canton) is at the German-Swiss language border and well known as a hockey town in Switzerland. The BCF Arena in Fribourg that was renovated and extended in recent years offers a capacity for 7,100 fans and was sold out for all games in the past season.

The IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships of the upcoming years:

  • 2023: Tampere (Finland) and Riga (Latvia) – May 12th to May 28th, 2023;
  • 2024: Prague and Ostrava (Czechia) – May 10th to May 26th, 2024;
  • 2025: Stockholm (Sweden) and Herning (Denmark) – May 9th to May 25th, 2025; and
  • 2026: Zürich and Fribourg (Switzerland) – May 15th to May 31st, 2026.


U18 events in Switzerland and Sweden

In the men’s U18 category, Switzerland will host the 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship next Spring in the Northwest of the country with the two venues to be determined. The candidates are Basel, Biel, Langnau, and Porrentruy with a decision expected in the upcoming weeks.

The 2024 edition will be allocated at a later congress with discussions going on to improve commercialization of the event that is considered the most important showcase event for young talent before their National Hockey League (NHL) Entry Draft year with hundreds of scouts attending the event.

In the women’s U18 category, Sweden will host the 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women’s World Championship following the relocation of the 2022 edition, which will take place this month in the United States (June 6th to June 13th in Madison and Middleton, Wisconsin).

Sweden will host the 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women’s World Championship next Winter from January 8th to January 15th in Östersund and Brunflo.

The 2024 edition was allocated to Switzerland. The venues are to be determined but the Swiss Ice Hockey Federation plans to host the event in the Italian-speaking canton of Ticino.

Women’s Worlds in Denmark, Canada and the United States

In late August, the 2022 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship will become the first top-level Women’s Worlds in an Olympic year. During Olympic years, the event will be held in August while in other years it will be organized in Spring. The preparations for the upcoming edition in Herning and Frederikshavn, Denmark, from August 25th to September 4th are going on with news on the game schedule and ticket sale expected in the upcoming weeks.

For the following two years the event will go to the two most successful countries in women’s hockey. The 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship next Spring will be hosted in Canada with venues and dates to be announced later. The 2024 edition was allocated to the United States.

Chinese proposal for Women’s World Championship Division I

The IIHF is in discussions with the Chinese Ice Hockey Association and the Chinese Winter Sports Administrative Center on a potential marketing contract to host the IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship Division I in China for the next three years as part of the legacy program of the 2022 Olympic Winter Games. The partnership would generate an income of $9 million that will go towards the IIHF and its membership in particular for the development of women’s ice hockey and ice hockey in the Asia and Oceania region.

The model would be similar to the marketing contract for the IIHF World Junior Championship and the IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship with Hockey Canada.

Maintained IIHF President Luc Tardif, “We will go further with this proposal and involve the women’s marketing and coordination committees as well as the participants involved and we hope to soon have good news for the benefit of everybody and of women’s hockey in particular.”

The proposed venue in China for 2023 is the 18,000-seat Shenzhen Universiade Sports Centre in Shenzhen that hosted the 2011 Universiade, a National Hockey League (NHL) game and games of the KRS Vanke Rays in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League and Russian Women’s Hockey League.

With negotiations going on, the venue allocation has been postponed to the next congress with Dordrecht, Netherlands, and Linz, Austria, as other applicants.

Adjustments in Division I and below

With Russia and Belarus not able to play in the 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship program, it was decided to fill up tournaments to the regular number of teams, which are usually six in the groups below the top division.

For the men’s categories that mean that teams will move up in the following order to reach the number of teams beside the teams regularly promoted:

  • Last-ranked team that was originally relegated; and
  • Runner-up of the lower division. In the women’s categories the move usually involves one team being the last-ranked team originally relegated that will stay up.

The 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A will thus be played with Italy, Great Britain, Lithuania, Korea, Poland, and Romania. Group B with Japan, Ukraine, Estonia, China, Serbia, and the Netherlands.

Teams that were not able to participate in the 2022 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship program due to COVID-19 remain their seeding position in the program. However, for 2023 it is planned that member national associations who do not fulfill their participation commitment will be dealt with according to the regular procedure as by the IIHF Statutes and Bylaws.

For the 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A the only two applicants to host the events were the two teams relegated from the top division that submitted last-minute bids. With 54 percent of the votes Congress voted in favor of Great Britain.

Great Britain was bidding with the motto ‘dare to dream’ that was used by the team in its past attempts to get promoted as the British will work on getting back to the top level again.

The venue is the 6,700-seat National Ice Centre and the tournament in Nottingham will be at the highest level hosted in Great Britain since the top-level Worlds in 1937 and 1950 in London. The other applicant was Bruneck, Italy.

The Division I Group B will take place at the 5,840-seat Tondiraba Ice Hall in the Estonian capital of Tallinn, which opened in 2014 and has since hosted several IIHF tournaments.

For the future, a presidential task force group presented an initial proposal to merge the groups and play the Division I in one 10-team tournament with two groups of five teams with the groups played at two venues and potentially two countries, which will be further analyzed by committees, Council and the IIHF office.

Other hosts in the men’s senior category include Madrid (Spain) and Istanbul (Turkey) for the Division II tournaments while the hosts, dates and participants of the Division III and IV tournaments will be finalized at the next congress in autumn.

In the men’s U20 category the top-level IIHF World Junior Championship will take place in Canada two times in a row. The postponed 2022 tournament will take place in August in Edmonton while for the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship Canada replaces Russia as a host with Halifax and Moncton as venues and Gothenburg, Sweden, is confirmed to host in 2024.

The lower divisions were allocated to Asker (Norway), Bytom (Poland) and Kaunas (Lithuania). The Division IIB and IIIA will be allocated at the next congress when the 2022 tournaments will have been played.

In the men’s U18 category Angers (France), Bled (Slovenia), Belgrade (Serbia), Sofia (Bulgaria), Reykjavík (Iceland), and Cape Town (South Africa) were named as hosts.

In the women’s senior category Suwon (Korea), Mexico City (Mexico), Cape Town (South Africa), Brașov (Romania), and Metula (Israel) have been named hosts. For Israel, it will be the first IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship event in the country since the ‘90s.

In the women’s U18 category, the Division I tournaments have been allocated to Ritten (Italy) and Katowice (Poland) while a decision on the Division II will be taken at the next congress following the competition of this season’s tournaments.

All venues, dates and participants will be published in the Tournament List soon.

The National Hockey League is a professional ice hockey league in North America comprising 32 teams – 25 in the United States and 7 in Canada. It is considered to be the top ranked professional ice hockey league in the world, and is one of the major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada.

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