The EHF has announced new dates for the 2021 EuroHockey Championships and Championships II to take into account the rescheduled dates for the 2020 Olympic Games.
The top tier competition will now be plated from June 4 to June 13, 2021 at the Wagener Stadium in Amstelveen, the Netherlands with the second tier competitions moving to August 15 to August 21, 2021.
Speaking about the change of dates, EHF President Marijke Fleuren said: “It was clear that as soon as the Olympic dates were rescheduled, we [EHF and the KNHB] would have to look at alternative dates for the EuroHockey Championships.
“It is like putting together a tricky jigsaw puzzle, each piece simply has to fit, or the full picture is not revealed.
“To pre-empt any questions on the early dates, I would add that as the EuroHockey Championships is an FIH World Cup Qualifier, we don’t believe that hosting it post an Olympic Games would be wise or fair to any of our stakeholders, especially our athletes.”
Erik Gerritsen, CEO KNHB, added: “We are fully aware that it is anything but certain that we can organize the EuroHockey Championships in June 2021 under ‘normal’ circumstances. Nobody knows what the situation with regard to the coronavirus will be then.
“All we know is that it is not yet possible to organise large public events in The Netherlands. That is why we are not yet starting ticket sales, but we will be looking at the situation in the coming months and the prospects for public events. ”
Gerritsen continued: “However, it is nice for the participating teams that a date has now been set. And now that the dates of the EuroHockey Championships have been determined, we also know what the international calendar for 2021 looks like, although the matches for the FIH Pro League have yet to be planned.
“In any case, we can now start working on a balanced competition schedule together with the Hoofdklasse clubs in our country.”
The announcement also saw the groups revealed. In the men’s competition, Belgium, England, Spain and Russia will be in Pool A while Pool B features the Netherlands, Germany, France and Wales.
In the women’s competition, the Netherlands, Spain, Ireland and Scotland are in Pool A; Pool B involves Germany, England, Belgium and Italy.
The EuroHockey Championship II will take place, for the men, in Gniezno in Poland and, for the women, in Prague in the Czech Republic.
Both were originally scheduled for August 1 to 7, 2021 but will now take place two weeks later from August 15 to 21.
The dates avoid a clash with the Olympics and give the opportunity for players who play in Tokyo to play in both events, if selected.
Polish Hockey Association President Jacek Sobolewski said: “We are delighted that another international hockey event will take place in the beautiful and historical city of Gniezno.
“I believe that the postponement of the dates will allow everyone to have proper preparation and deliver their best hockey during this tournament. Our staff and local organisers are looking forward to welcoming the teams in Poland!”
Gino Schilders, President of Czech Hockey, added: “Although our players regret the rescheduling of the tournament and the new dates for 2021 will provide a challenge for everybody, we have shaken off our first concerns and started to work hard on the preparations to be successful both on and of the pitch.
“We are happy that the new dates are already known well in advance which gives us the opportunity to plan ahead.”
Fleuren concluded “Now is the time for a positive message that we have been able to secure these revised dates for the Championship and Championship II events and we are delighted to be able to make this announcement today.
“Of course, all of the planning for 2021 is based on the hope that COVID19 will be more under control, that there will be again free and easy travel within Europe. Should that not be the case and WHO and Government restrictions are still in place, then this decision will be revisited with our stakeholders.”
Pools will be confirmed in due course.