International Ice Hockey Federation bans Belarus, Russia and other countries from its competitions ‘until more notice’

The International Ice Hockey Federation banned Russia and Belarus from participating in any age group or in any IIHF competitions, and pulled the 2023 world junior hockey championship out of Russia.

This decision was taken by the IIHF council at its Monday meeting in response to Russia's invasion.

According to the IIHF, these actions were initiated by the Council to allow the IIHF to protect IIHF Championships as well as all participants, officials and fans.

The world junior championship was to be held in Dec. 2022, and Jan. 2023. Novosibirsk & Omsk were the cities hosting. After the expiration in 2020 of Russia's two-year suspension, the World Anti-Doping Agency ruling deemed it necessary to select the sites. Novosibirsk had been building a new arena specifically for this event. Russia's world junior soccer team won't be able participate in the tournament regardless of where it's being held.

According to the IIHF the decision to relocate the event was “primarily taken out of concern about the health and well being of all participants players officials and fans.”

This decision has other implications. Belarus and Russia will not be participating in the 2022 IIHF World Championships in May. Russia's women’s national team will not participate in either the U18 nor women's world championship tournaments.

Luc Tardif, president of the IIHF, stated that the IIHF was not a political organization and could not influence the decision-making process in Ukraine. “We still have a duty of care for all of our members. We must ensure that all participants in the IIHF World Championship program are safe.

The IIHF did no specify whether Saint Petersburg, Russia will host the 2023 World Championships. The event is scheduled to take place there in May 2023. Although the IIHF council left open the possibility for “further actions impacting events or other IIHF activities,” it hopes most importantly that there will be a peaceful and swift resolution to the conflict.

Following several public statements by international hockey federations in support of a ban, the IIHF ruling was issued. Finland wanted both countries “completely excluded from international play.” The IIHF wanted Switzerland to withdraw from the 2023 World Championships. They also joined Latvia in pulling out the exhibition games for Russia. The Czech Republic, Finland and Sweden had also decided not to invite Russia into the Euro Hockey Tour tournaments. This tournament includes junior and women's teams.

The breach by the Russian government of the Olympic Truce was also considered by the IIHF council. This resolution was adopted December 2021 by the United Nations General Assembly. Last week, the International Olympic Committee's executive committee condemned the breach of the Olympic Truce.

Tardif stated, “We were incredibly shocked at the images that have been coming out of Ukraine.” “I have been in constant contact with members of Ice Hockey Federation of Ukraine, and we hope that this conflict can end peacefully without further violence.”

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