A qualification tournament for women’s ice hockey at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics has been cancelled because of coronavirus-related travel restrictions.
Iceland, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Hong Kong had been due to battle it out for a place in round two of the pre-qualification phase later this month in Reykjavik.
However, with Iceland experiencing its worst outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bulgaria pulled out of the event and the International Ice Hockey Federation said the other visiting teams had expressed concerns over quarantine rules.
A decision has therefore been taken to cancel the tournament, which was set for August 26 to 29.
Iceland, as the team ranked highest of the four, advance to pre-qualification round two and a place n Group F alongside Britain, Slovenia and South Korea.
Gangneung in South Korea is due to host that group in October, with one place on offer in the final qualification round.
Torre Pellice in Italy and Bytom in Poland are also due to stage qualification groups in October.
Czech city Chomutov, Füssen in Germany and Luleå in Sweden are due to host the three final qualification tournaments in November.
There is now fewer than six months until the Beijing 2022 Olympics and the global health crisis threatens to disrupt preparations.
China’s border remains largely closed as a precaution against spreading COVID-19, in particular new variants.