René Fasel, president of the International Hockey Federation (IIHF), says Minsk in Belarus will remain the host city for next spring’s World Cup.
- The 2014 World Cup in Belarus was a huge success. We have no reason to take a position politically, so the tournament starts on May 21st. We are ready to go to Belarus, Fasel told news agency TASS.
Minsk's ability or suitability to host the competition has been questioned, e.g. due to riots in the country. Belarus has had fierce clashes between police and pro-opposition protesters since Alexander Lukashenko was elected for his sixth presidency on Sunday with an 80 per cent vote. The opposition has accused the election of fraud.
- We are monitoring the situation. We have seen protests since Lukashenko was elected president, but the role of the International Sports Federation is not to make political statements at this point, Fasel said.
Kalervo Kummola, Vice-President of the IIHF, no longer wanted to comment on the matter on Friday. He said earlier in the week that he had raised the Belarus issue at a union meeting.
- There was no discussion there other than me and the representative of Belarus. We talked to each other. We didn't have exactly the same views on the matter, Kummola told IS on Wednesday.
Read more: Kalervo Kummola challenged the Belarusian representative at the World Cup in the spring - "We didn't have exactly the same views"
Kummola's interview with Ilta-Sanomat had also been based on Fasel's information.
- Our alliance is apolitical, the case (World Cup) was talked about (at the meeting) very briefly. Kalervo Kummola's newspaper interview - as often happens - made a lot of noise, but at no point did we talk about canceling the World Cup, Fasel told Tassi.
Minsk is scheduled to host next spring's World Championships together with Riga, Latvia.
Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins told Latvian TV channel LTV7 that Latvia cannot organize the Games together with Minsk.
- I have already asked the Ministry responsible for sports to take contact with the International Association of Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), so that a solution is found, Karins said.
Read more: New host for the Ice Hockey World Cup? TASS: Latvia refuses to host tournament with Belarus
The World Cup is scheduled to begin on May 21 and end on June 6, 2021.
Finland is the defending world champion after winning World Cup gold in 2019. Last spring's World Cup was canceled due to a coronavirus pandemic.