Belarus is no longer allowed to organize the Ice Hockey World Cup.

The international ice hockey federation IIHF does not think it is safe enough in the Eastern European country and decided to intervene under great international pressure.

Belarus, together with Latvia, had been designated as the host country for the World Cup, which is scheduled from May 21 to June 6.

Due to the political unrest in the country, there was a lot of opposition to organizing the final round in Belarus, with Minsk as the playing city.

President Alexander Lukashenko has often cracked down on peaceful popular protests since his disputed election victory on 9 August.

The international pressure to hold the World Cup elsewhere was increasing.

For example, 44 members of the European Parliament recently signed a letter calling on the IIHF to deny Belarus the organization of the World Cup.

Pressure increased after main sponsor's withdrawal

Last week, the pressure to move the tournament further increased after Czech car company SKODA announced it would withdraw as the title sponsor if the tournament remained in Belarus.

Lukashenko is an ice hockey fan herself.

He participated in a tournament in Minsk in March and caused a sensation there by downplaying the outbreak of COVID-19.

"It's like a refrigerator here, there are no viruses here," he said at the time.

It is not yet known where the World Cup will be held.

The international ice hockey association says in a statement that there is a chance that no more matches will be played in Latvia, but that another country will be chosen.