Update on Player Safety and Neck Guards

Ice Hockey Australia update: Player Safety

Our global sporting community continues to process the recent tragic event of the death of Adam Johnson in the UK. At Ice Hockey Australia we, together with our Member Associations (MA) and Leagues, are very aware of our collective responsibilities as custodians of the sport.

As in all sports, the safety of our players is our upmost concern. We are firmly committed to our obligation to review all safety measures – and particularly ensure a detailed, well thought through and investigated approach to neck guards takes place for all players.

With this consideration in mind and recognising the probable requirement for a staged response, the IHA in conjunction with our state MA’s, has resolved the following actions:
A. Immediate step: The IHA continues to support a strong recommendation that all players at all levels across Australian Ice Hockey use a neck guard or protector while participating in all ice activities. This is in combination with the mandated requirement that all players 20 years and under (men) and 18 years and under (women) already must wear neck guards in accordance with the IIHF rulebook. As a step up to this, IHA together with it’s MA’s, confirm an agreed desire to move to a staged mandate of guards, pending consultation with the IIHF. Consultation with the IIHF has continued over the last weeks as they put to their safety committee formal recommendations.
B. Short term step: Consultation has commenced with neck guard manufacturers to seek insights on supplies. A measured roll out plan in 2024 has been discussed in order to allow players to meet the expected requirement in the event of the mandate. A reach out to players to seek input on the possible roll out of neck guards will be undertaken. A further review of safety equipment to be completed to use this tragic situation as a reminder to constantly review measures in place to keep players safe.
C. Medium to longer term step: Pending consultation from the IIHF, a statement confirming the change to regulations to mandate guards across all ice activities including matches and training with a communicated timing around Q2 of 2024. This will include any specifications around the protective equipment and a well thought out commencement date that respects available supply.

Our responsibility, as it is that now of the ice hockey community world-wide, is not only to avert the recurrence of such a heart-breaking incident, but also to pre-emptively address other foreseeable incidents in the future. We are fully aware of our duty to respond in a measured and pragmatic way. There is a strong likelihood that comprehensive evaluations will transpire at the international level, and the IHA is committed to taking an active and constructive role in any capacity in this process.