The IIHF Council decided to restrict the Israeli National Team from participating in IIHF Championships on a temporary basis due to safety and security concerns it had for all Championship participants, specifically including the players and team staff from all participating teams. This decision currently affects the Israeli National Team’s participation in the 2024 IIHF Ice Hockey U20 World Championship Division III Group B scheduled to start on 22 January 2024. This event has been originally planned to be held in Israel, but due to already existing safety and security concerns being moved to Bulgaria.
The decision is not a sanction against the Israeli Federation and does not affect the Israeli Federation’s status as a full member in good standing with the IIHF.
IIHF Council will meet in February to assess the safety situation associated with the March and April Championships in which Israel is scheduled to participate and will meet in March to assess the safety situation associated with the April Championship in which Israel is scheduled to participate. This will allow the IIHF Council the ability to deal with each Championship on a case-by-case-basis taking into consideration the facts unique to each location where a respective Championship is scheduled to take place.
The IIHF Council spoke several times with all stakeholders prior to taking this decision and will continue to speak with all stakeholders with the hope that the decision will only impact the Championship scheduled to take place in January. The IIHF stands behind the Israeli Federation and wants to secure the safety of all players participating in its championship including players from Israel.
The IIHF Council’s current decision is based strictly on specific facts, including:
- The teams participating.
- The number of players who will be participating as minors.
- The number of people involved in the overall organization of the Championship.
- The location of the Championship arena being located in a student area with a high population from the affected regions.
- Expected attendance for home games, where the Championship is expected to draw between 1,000 and 1,500 fans.
- The size and nature of the multi-purpose arena facility which includes additional ice sheets where other events will be occurring and a large public gym, shops, and restaurants. These public areas are not subject to closure during the Championship.
The IIHF completely understands that this is a difficult decision and is being made to prioritize security and safety of all involved parties first.
The IIHF hopes to find a way as soon as possible to bring back the Israeli National team in our championship program.