The head of the Belarusian Ice Hockey Federation Dmitry Baskov on Tuesday expressed regret that the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), which decided to postpone the 2021 World Cup from Minsk, became a victim of the political games around Belarus.
“We are sorry that the International Ice Hockey Federation and the world’s largest brands supporting the development of world ice hockey have become victims of political games around Belarus,” the website of the Belarusian Ice Hockey Federation quoted Baskov on January 19.
He noted that Belarus had done “a lot of work, first on the preparation of an application to host the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, and then directly on the organization of the tournament.”
Baskov expressed confidence that the tournament had every chance to repeat the success of the 2014 World Cup. He regretted that the decision did not provide for the possibility of an appeal.
“I would like to personally address the representatives of the so-called athletes solidarity fund. Especially to former professional athletes. Today you are celebrating a victory, taking away a real holiday from the Belarusian people. After that, you cannot be called Belarusians! You are traitors! ” He added.
Bakov emphasized that the world championship was taken away, “first of all, from thousands of children playing hockey.” He noted that in 17 days of the championship Minsk could attract to the state not only world hockey stars, “which would equal the new generation of hockey players, but also tens of thousands of foreign fans and hundreds of media representatives who could experience the incredible beauty from their own experience. Belarus, the hospitality of our people and the level of security in our country ”.
The tournament was to take place in Minsk and Riga from May 21 to June 6, 2021.
On January 18, the IIHF council deprived Belarus of the right to host the championship matches. The federation explained the decision by security issues that are “outside the control” of the organization, and announced that it would pay compensation to Minsk due to the postponement of the hockey championship.
The Kremlin expressed regret about depriving Belarus of the right to host the World Ice Hockey Championship this year.
Earlier, the Belarusian opposition and various European public organizations called on the IIHF to postpone the tournament from Minsk due to the tense political situation in the republic. In particular, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas spoke out against the holding of the World Cup in Minsk on January 14, and the US State Department on January 19.
In January, several major sponsors, including Scoda and Nivea Man, said they would not fund the championship if it takes place in the Belarusian capital.
In Belarus, after the presidential elections held in August 2020, which the incumbent head of state Alexander Lukashenko won for the sixth time, protests continue. Those who disagreed with the election results took to the streets, and the discontent escalated into clashes with the police.
On the weekend of January 16-17, 30 people were detained for participating in uncoordinated actions in the state.