Latvia officially asks the IIIHF to move 2021 World Championship from Belarus

Latvia officially asks the IIIHF to move 2021 World Championship from Belarus

Davide Tuniz09 Sep 2020Davide Tuniz»

Latvia will refuse to host the 2021 World Cup if it is also held in Belarus: an official letter was sent by the Latvian government to the IIHF


Latvia should co-host the next World Championship with Belarus, but, following the protests after the election in the neighboring country, the Govermnent of the Baltic country was among the first to express dissatisfaction with the events in Belarus. A decree has been issued banning the President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko and 29 other officials of this country from entering Latvia

"Our government supports the desire of the Belarusian people to live in an independent and democratic country," said Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš in August. "Given the situation in Belarus, we decided to start negotiations with the International Ice Hockey Federation  (IIHF) to have the championship stage currently scheduled for Belarus take place in another country. "

Now an offical letter was sent to the IIHF President Rene Fasel stating that Latvia will withdraw Riga as a partner in the championship, if the competition will also take place in Minsk.

The letter says:

“The presidential elections held on August 9, 2020 in Belarus do not meet international obligations, democratic principles and norms of law accepted in the world, they were not free and fair. Repressive actions of the Belarusian authorities and the use of violence against representatives of civil society and independent media violate internationally recognized rights In the opinion of the Government of the Republic of Latvia, such actions are incompatible with the IIHF values ​​and, therefore, are incompatible with the status of the host country of the IIHF World Cup 2021.

In connection with the above, the Government of the Republic of Latvia calls for the transfer of the status of the main organizer of the 2021 Ice Hockey World Championship to some other country. If the situation with human rights and freedoms in Belarus does not change and the relevant decisions by the IIHF are not taken, the government of the Republic of Latvia may withdraw its guarantees as a host country for the 2021 World Cup. "

Edgars Severs, Deputy State Secretary of the Ministry of Education and Science, explained: "We are a government institution, we are in a position to cooperate only with a country that respects human rights It cannot be that they close their eyes and ears and do not see anything when sport takes place. In our view, it is very closely linked! And sport also carries these values, including human rights, democracy and so on. "

Some days ago the Latvian Hockey Federation President Aigars Kalvītis had taken a softer and more possiblist position saying that:

"I could not imagine that Latvia would refuse to hold competitions at the last minute! We have not had a championship for 15 years, and probably will not have the next 15. This is a very serious event. And in terms of audience, hockey is number one sport in our country. It is very important for hockey, for the development of hockey. Now it is quite difficult to give up what we have undertaken. We will destroy our authority in the eyes of the hockey industry, we will also abandon the development of hockey. We can in no way distance ourselves from Belarus as a country, from Belarus as a nation, and these contacts must be maintained, and they will be maintained"

Also former Russia head coach Yuri Novikov, born in Minsk, thinks the World Championship should stay in Belarus: “I definitely disagree with that.The competition was planned and had no political overtones.The decision to hold the World Championship in Belarus was made by the hockey world.It was adopted in a democratic way, with votes of ice hockey Federations.The reversal of this decision would be a blow below the belt.Hockey is the only thing trying to stay out of politics.Sport should unite peoples.I think that everyone will be outraged, not just me, because this is clearly politically motivated.

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