IIHF World Ice Hockey Live

IIHF visits Latvia as decision looms on 2021 Men’s World Championship host

An International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) delegation has visited Latvia as the governing body prepares to make a decision on whether the country can stage this year’s Men’s World Championship.

Minsk in Belarus was originally set to co-host the event along with Riga in Latvia before it was stripped of the rights due to safety and security concerns in the country.

Latvia has offered to hold the entire tournament, but IIHF President René Fasel is currently engaged in talks with Herning in Denmark and Bratislava in Slovakia over the possibility of staging matches.

The Latvian Ice Hockey Federation President Aigars Kalvitis confirmed an IIHF delegation has visited the country.

Discussions reportedly centred around the potential venues for the event, with the Arena Riga already earmarked to host matches.

The Olympic Sports Center and Daugava Ice Hall’s ability to stage matches was among the topics discussed, as well as availability of accommodation, COVID-19 regulations, broadcasting and the finances of the event.

Kalvitis told Latvian website TVNET that the IIHF had held a consultation between all 16 participating nations at the tournament.

He added that Latvia believed it could successfully hold the World Championship as a single host.

The 16-team IIHF World Championship is due to be held from May 21 to June 6.

Russia had offered to step in as a replacement for Belarus but the country is barred from being awarded or hosting major events until December 2022 under the series of sanctions imposed on the nation by the World Anti-Doping Agency as punishment for the manipulation of the Moscow Laboratory data.

The IIHF had come under pressure to move the event from Minsk because of political unrest in the nation, where protesters – including athletes – have allegedly been arrested, beaten and tortured for participating in demonstrations against Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

Lukashenko, who also heads the country’s National Olympic Committee, has been banned from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics along with Belarusian Ice Hockey Association President Dmitri Baskov.

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