The IIHF has a duty of care to all Championship participants. As such, IIHF Bylaw 9 provides the IIHF Council the ability to withdraw an IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship from a hosting nation if there is reason for concern that the well-being or the safe freedom of movement of the players, officials, traveling spectators and media is in doubt.
Therefore, the IIHF Council has conducted a fair and unbiased due diligence process whereby independent experts and all stakeholders were consulted on the viability of holding the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Belarus in the face of the growing safety and security concerns related to both the rising political unrest and COVID-19. The final stage of the IIHF Council due diligence process was meeting with the Belarusian government last week and the commissioning of a further independent expert report.
Taking into consideration everything the IIHF Council learned during the due diligence process, the IIHF Council has determined that it is currently impossible to ensure the welfare of teams, spectators and officials while holding a World Championship in Belarus.
“It is a very regrettable thing to have to remove the Minsk/Riga co-hosting bid,” said IIHF President René Fasel. “During this process, we had tried to promote that the World Championship could be used as a tool for reconciliation to help calm the socio-political issues happening in the Belarus and find a positive way forward.”
“And while the Council feels that the World Championship should not be used for political promotion by any side, it has acknowledged that hosting this event in Minsk would not be appropriate when there are bigger issues to deal with and the safety and security of teams, spectators, and officials to prioritize.”
With Minsk/Riga 2021 being a joint bid, the IIHF Council must consider the status of Latvia as a co-host, and will also evaluate the possibility of moving to a single-venue format to facilitate COVID-19 safety regulations and team travel.
The IIHF Council will undertake the above actions and will come back with updates.