Switzerland to host 2020 hockey championships

Slovakia and Switzerland will host the ice hockey world championships in 2019 and 2020 respectively, the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) announced on Friday.

Switzerland to host 2020 hockey championships
View of the Hallenstadion, Zurich's multipurpose arena. Photo: Hallenstadion

Meeting in Prague, where the current worlds are being staged, the IIHF awarded the 2019 championships to the Slovakian cities of Bratislava and
Kosice, to be held from May 3rd-19th.
Slovakia, an independent state since 1993, has already hosted the championships in 2011.
Switzerland will hold the following year's tournament in Zurich and Lausanne, the IIHF announced.

The country last held the event in 2009, in Berne and Zurich-Kloten.

For 2020, Switzerland plans to host the championships under the slogan “Love Ice Hockey”.

The two venues include Zurich's Hallenstadion, a heritage building originally built in 1939 and reopened in 2005 after the interior was completely rebuilt.

It offers 11,200 seats for hockey, a nearby practice rink and is the home of the ZSC Lions Zurich.

A brand-new venue in Lausanne is planned as the second facility.

The 10,000-seat arena is planned also for the 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games bid and will include a practice rink located alongside it.

If the proposed Lausanne venue is not built, the 7,000-seat arena in Zug that recently hosted the U18 World Championship was named as backup venue.
Next year's hockey competition will be held in Russia, while France and Germany will stage the 2017 championships and Denmark will be the host nation in 2018.

The announcement about Switzerland's hosting of the championship in 2020 came a day after Swiss hopes of advancing beyond the quarterfinals in this year's tournament were crushed on Thursday.

They were eliminated from competition following a 1-3 loss to the US in a knock-out game at the Ostrava arena.

Switzerland notched the first goal in the 14th minute of play and were able to maintain a 1-0 lead until the 31st minute when the Americans equalized.

Less than a minute later the US took the lead before scoring an insurance goal in the third period. 

The US now goes to the semifinals against Russia, while Canada will square off against the Czech Republic for the right to compete in the finals. 

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Three scenarios: How Switzerland plans to fight a Covid resurgence

Swiss government has devised three contingency plans that could be implemented to fight a new outbreak. What are they?

Three scenarios: How Switzerland plans to fight a Covid resurgence
Authorities want to prevent overcrowded hospitals if new wave comes. Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP

Although Switzerland relaxed a number of coronavirus rules from June 26th and 28th, “the pandemic is not over”, as Health Minister Alain Berset said at a press conference on Wednesday.

Berset said Switzerland should not become complacent, with last summer a warning against feeling that the battle is won. 

He added, however, that the new wave is unlikely to be as large as the previous ones due to the country’s vaccination campaign.

This situation leaves a degree of uncertainty for which the government wants to be prepared as well as possible, Berset noted.

The Federal Council established a “just-in-case” procedure on Wednesday for three possible scenarios that could take place in the autumn and winter. 

These plans focus mainly on the rapid detection of variants and the continuation of vaccination, testing, and tracing.

The best-case scenario: status quo

In this scenario, the number of cases remains at a low level, though small outbreaks are still possible.

The number of infections may increase slightly due to seasonal factors — the virus is known to spread slower in summer and faster in autumn and winter—  but does not place a significant burden on the health system.

If this happens, no measures beyond those already in place would be necessary.

READ MORE: ANALYSIS: Is Switzerland lifting its Covid-19 restrictions too quickly?

Not so good: more contaminations

In this second scenario, there is an increase in the number of cases in autumn or winter.

There may be several reasons for this, for example the large proportion of unvaccinated people, seasonal effects — people tend to stay indoors together in cold weather, and contaminations are easier — or the appearance of new, more infectious variants.

This situation could overburden the health system and require the reintroduction of certain measures, such as the obligation to wear a mask outdoors.

Booster vaccinations may also be necessary.

The worst: new virus mutations

In scenario three, one or more new variants appear, against which the vaccine or the post-recovery immunity are less effective or no longer effective.

A new wave of pandemic emerges, requiring strong intervention by the public authorities and a new vaccination.

Which of the three scenarios is most likely to happen?

The government hasn’t said, but judging by the comments of health officials, the latter two are the strongest contenders.

Firstly, because the highly contagious Delta mutation, which is spreading quickly through many countries, is expected to be dominant in Switzerland within a few weeks.

It is expected that the virus will spread mostly to those who are not vaccinated and, to a lesser degree, to people who have only had one shot of the vaccine, according to Andreas Cerny, epidemiologist at the University of Bern

READ MORE: How Switzerland plans to contain the Delta variant

Another concern is related to the appearance of the new variants which could be as or possibly even more contagious than Delta and not as responsive to the current vaccines.

The government said the best chance of avoiding the second or third scenarios is to ensure people are vaccinated. 

“Widespread vaccination of the population is crucial to relieve the burden on the healthcare system and to manage the epidemic. A possible increase in the number of coronavirus cases in the autumn will largely depend on the proportion of the population that has been vaccinated,” the government wrote in a press statement.

The government has also indicating it is preparing for booster vaccinations to take place in 2022 and are encouraging cantons to keep their vaccine infrastructures in place.