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REPORT: IIHF REMOVES BELARUS FROM CO-HOSTING 2021 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

According to Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News, the IIHF is reportedly going to be removing Belarus from their co-hosting duties for the 2021 World Hockey Championships. Instead, all games that were scheduled to be played in the Belarus capital of Minsk, will now be played in Moscow, Russia. The Latvian capital, Riga, will stay on as co-hosts. IIHF president Rene Fasel will be meeting with Russian Hockey Federation president Vladislav Tretiak in the coming days in order to finalize the move.



The reason for the move is because of the on-going mass protests, and unstable political climate within Belarus. It's being widely reported that Belarus' president Alexander Lukashenko rigged their August 9th election and won 80% of the vote. The election results sparked protests among Belarus citizens, with police using unrestrained violence against protestors. It's been a little over 100 days since the election, and Lukashenko remains in power, as he has for the last 26 years, and his major political opponents are either in jail or exiled. It's also worth noting that Lukashenko's presidency is being backed by Moscow's support.

The 2021 IIHF World Hockey Championships will be held in Moscow, Russia, and Riga, Latvia, from May 21st to June 6th. 16 nations will take part, in one of the IIHF's premier events. Both semi-final games, as well as the bronze, and gold medal games were originally going to be played in Minsk, but it is unknown at the moment on whether Moscow or Riga will host those games. Here are the groups for the 2021 World Championship.

Group A: Russia, Sweden, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Slovakia, Denmark, Belarus, Great Britain.

Group B: Canada, Finland, United States, Germany, Latvia, Norway, Italy, Kazakhstan.



We should likely get official details on the removal of Minsk, Belarus as co-host at some point over the next 24-48 hours. This was definitely the right direction for the IIHF to go, in order to ensure the safety of players, referees, and tournament officials.
COOPER GODIN
NOVEMBER 19, 2020  (16H08)
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