IIHF to initiate review of Minsk/Riga 2021
by Adam Steiss|17 SEP 2020
Belarus and Latvia succeeded with their joint bid to co-host the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship together.
photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images
During a meeting in Zurich, the IIHF Council discussed the issues submitted by the government of Latvia regarding the status of the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, scheduled to be hosted by Minsk, Belarus, and Riga, Latvia. 

In a letter submitted to the IIHF, the Latvian Prime Minister has indicated that the country wishes to co-host the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, however that it may be unwilling to do so with Minsk as a co-host under the current circumstances. The Latvian Prime Minister has called on the IIHF to consider assigning the status of main host for the World Championship to another country. 

“This is the first time that a government of a host nation has indicated its unwillingness to remain a tournament co-host with another host nation due to political reasons,” said IIHF President RenĂ© Fasel. “The IIHF is deeply concerned over the recent events unfolding in Minsk, but as sports federation the IIHF is not a political entity and cannot move a tournament for political reasons.

“However, the IIHF is responsible for ensuring that each tournament host can guarantee the health and safety of the players, officials, and spectators.”

The IIHF Council will therefore put together an Expert Group to conduct a full review of the tournament’s status and consult with all relevant experts in the financial, medical, event, marketing, sport, legal, and administrative areas of the World Championship. They will have the mandate to work out a clear picture of the situation with the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship to present to the IIHF Council during its next meeting in November. 

“This is an exceptional season, already today we have had to cancel several tournaments due to COVID-19,” said Fasel. “There are a lot of factors that will affect our ability to host the World Championship, and we need time to take a comprehensive approach to exploring how this tournament can take place safely.”

The IIHF Congress, composed of all the Member National Associations of the IIHF, voted together to approve the Minsk/Riga co-hosting bid during the 2017 IIHF Annual Congress. 

“To be clear, the Expert Group’s job will be to review all potential risks that currently exist with the ability of Minsk/Riga to function as tournament hosts,” said IIHF General Secretary Horst Lichtner. “They will be tasked to come up with recommendations on what the best course will be to take for the World Championship.”