Updates: 18.01.2021 19:56
Zurich – This year’s World Hockey Championship will not be played in Belarus due to safety concerns of the tournament participants. The decision was made today by the Council of the International Hockey Federation (IIHF). He will negotiate a new co-organizer with Latvia, while other hosts are offered by Denmark and Slovakia. However, there is also the possibility that the championship will take place in one place, also in view of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It is unfortunate that we need to abolish the joint organization of Minsk and Riga. We have tried to make the World Cup a tool of reconciliation to help calm the socio-political problems they now have in Belarus and find a positive way forward, “said the president of the hockey federation René Fasel on the IIHF website.
Minsk was to host the Riga World Cup together with the Riga from May 21 to June 6. After last year’s re-election of Alexander Lukashenko to the presidency in what the opposition of his autocratic regime calls rigged, mass protests erupted in the country. The riots persist to this day, and the IIHF has long been under pressure to take the championship from Belarus.
Over the weekend, even the main sponsor of the Škoda Auto championship announced that he would not support the tournament if Belarus was a co-organizer. “Škoda Auto welcomes the IIHF’s confirmation that the 2021 Ice Hockey World Championships will not take place in Minsk. Now the IIHF is discussing the selection of other locations. We look forward to further steps and decisions on a new venue. We hope to find a good solution,” he said. today ČTK head of communication of Škoda Auto Tomáš Kotera.
Lukashenko is described as “the last European dictator”. Due to what is happening in the country, the International Olympic Committee suspended him in December, as did the head of the National Hockey Association, Dmitry Baskov. He is suspected of taking part in a violent attack on activist Roman Bondarenko, who later succumbed to a head injury.
“The Council considers that the World Cup should not be used by political parties in any way and in any way for political promotion. It therefore recognized that holding an event in Minsk would not be appropriate in situations where even greater problems related to the safety of teams, spectators or officials, “Fasel said.
“Given the development of the situation, such a decision could be expected,” said the head of Czech hockey, Tomáš Král. “It is good that the IIHF leadership has joined him and ended the discussions. A decision on a new form of the championship should be made as soon as possible, because both the federation and the organizers will have a lot of work to do under current conditions and restrictions,” Král added.
The official move, which deprived Belarus of the World Cup, was also expected in view of Fasel’s statement from last week when he visited Minsk. “The IIHF is very concerned about Minsk’s ability to organize the tournament safely from a coronavirus perspective, is under investigation by the President of the Belarusian Hockey Association, and there is unrest in the country, which is significantly affecting preparations for the tournament and raising legitimate concerns for teams, fans and government officials,” Fasel said. The tournament was to return to Minsk after seven years, when it hosted the World Championships for the first time.
“I fully support the IIHF’s decision to take over the World Hockey Championship from Belarus. I was in agreement with Czech Hockey in this respect. Four months before the start, there is quite a gallows deadline for the new organizer, but I am convinced that the championship will take place without organizational problems,” he said on twitter. Chairman of the National Sports Agency and former national team goalkeeper Milan Hnilička.
The next steps in the organization of the championship will be discussed by the IIHF Council at its next meeting.
The next steps in the organization of the championship will be discussed by the IIHF Council at its next meeting. “We are still in contact with each other, there are a lot of negotiations going on all the time and we are dealing with it all intensively. We would like to be clear within two to three weeks,” Petr Bříza, a member of the IIHF Council, told ČTK.
Source: České noviny – sport by www.ceskenoviny.cz.
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