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Photo: Icelandic supporters go wild (screenshot from RÚV).

New Arena Needed for Iceland’s 2031 Handball Host Role

Iceland is set to co-host the 2031 Handball World Championship with Denmark and Norway. Iceland’s ability to host hinges on the completion of a new national arena by 2031, without which it would have to withdraw, a spokesperson for the Icelandic Handball Federation has noted.

A new national arena a prerequisite

As noted by IR yesterday, Iceland will host the 2031 Handball World Championship along with Denmark and Norway. A new National Arena is deemed essential for Iceland to be able to host the event.

In an interview with RÚV yesterday, Róbert Geir Gíslason, General Manager of the Icelandic Handball Federation (HSÍ), noted that Iceland would have to withdraw from hosting the tournament in the event that the new national arena was not completed in time.

“We know the arena is currently in the tendering process. Regarding the design, we are promised that it will be ready by 2028 or 2029. We fully trust that this timeline will hold,” he observed. When asked if there was a contingency plan if the new national arena failed to materialise, Róbert responded that Iceland would have to withdraw its participation.

As noted by RÚV, the government has committed to erecting a new arena by 2028 or 2029. In September 2023, the completion was scheduled for late 2026, but that date has now been pushed back.

“I believe that if we do not have a national arena – if it’s not ready by 2031 – we will somehow have to withdraw. It’s clear. It is an absolute prerequisite for us to meet the tournament’s minimum requirements. The national arena is what we need to meet those,” Róbert explained.

A total of 21 games to be played in Iceland

Iceland will host two groups during the group stages of the tournament along with hosting an intermediate round. RÚV notes that 21 games in total will be played in Laugardalur, Reykjavík, with Iceland playing eight games at home if everything goes as planned. The other six groups will be played in Norway and Denmark, and three intermediate rounds will be played in these countries as well.

“We didn’t have the option to host this alone,” Róbert explained. “We will host two groups and one intermediate round here. So we are getting eight nations here, or seven including us. That’s big enough for us for now.”

As noted by RÚV, Iceland has previously hosted a major tournament, namely the 1995 World Championship. Thirty-six years will thus have passed since Iceland last hosted a World Championship by the time the 2031 World Championship comes around. Róbert observed that being chosen to host the event was a significant recognition for Iceland as a sporting nation.

“We are very proud. This is great news and a significant recognition for us as a sporting nation. A great acknowledgement of the work of HSÍ and the clubs across the country.”

HSÍ has been working on the project with the government and the Icelandic Tourism Board.

“This has been a long process and we are very grateful to the government and the Icelandic Tourism Board for their help. It has been a lot of work both for them and us, in close cooperation with Denmark and Norway.”

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