Japan withdraws teams from hockey worlds

Japan has withdrawn its ice hockey teams from all world championships because of the devastating earthquake and tsunami.

The International Ice Hockey Federation says Japanese players and officials have lost friends and colleagues in the disaster. Federation president Rene Fasel says ice hockey’s popularity is concentrated in northern Japan, where much of the earthquake damage occurred.

Japanese officials told the governing body they have ”the moral obligation” to withdraw national teams from competition to focus on recovery efforts.

At the world qualifiers, Japan’s men’s team was scheduled to play in Hungary, its under-18 team in Latvia and the women’s team in Germany.

Fasel says the federation sent its condolences to Japan.