IIHF activism indicates that the World Cup is six months away. “It is simply not legitimate for (Latvian) political politicians to ask us for a political signal. We will not allow blackmail,” he said.
It should not be a decision of the sports federation – the cancellation of the contract signed four years ago to host the World Championships, Lightner emphasizes. “No one can ask us to do that. We are not in breach of the terms of the agreement. We are a sports world federation. We’m sorry, we made a mistake, now we’ve go somewhere else,” he said.
He argues that the principles of the IIHF clearly state that decisions must be made impartially. “I can not bury our own precepts,” Litner stressed.
The 2014 World Championships in Belarus were already a success. Now the situation is different, “but it is the same country,” says IIHF Secretary-General. “I am confident that if the country recovers, it will be a great world championship in both Riga and Minsk,” he said.
In August, after an extraordinary meeting of the government, Latvia announced that it would begin talks with the IIHF on organizing the 2021 World Hockey Championships in another country for Belarus.
He explained that Latvia wanted to host the 2021 World Cup in Riga, but given the situation in Belarus, the Prime Minister did not see the possibility of Latvia hosting the tournament with Belarus and preferred to compete with a country other than Belarus. “The Latvian government has decided not to allow Latvia to host the 2021 Hockey Championships,” he said.
Foreign Minister Edgar Rinkavis (JV) acknowledged that the situation in Belarus could change due to a political upheaval, and therefore the championship could take place there.
On Tuesday, during a closed session of the Latvian government meeting, I heard the headline prepared by the Ministry of Education and Science (MES) to discuss with IIHF the issue of organizing the Hockey Championship in Latvia. It was decided to continue discussions with IIHF about the Hockey Championship in our country.
Education and Science Minister Ilga Oplinska (JKP) told reporters after the government meeting that the IIHF’s position on the issue would be known on November 18.
Emphasizing that Belarus’ developments at the championships did not inspire confidence in security, she expressed the desire of the IIHF to take a closer look at the security forces in the neighboring country.
Meanwhile, IIHF has no plans to move the 2021 World Cup elsewhere and does not want to make any political statements.
The 2021 World Cup is organized by Minsk with Riga, but the decisive stage of the tournament is planned by the capital, Belarus. Minsk also hosted the World Cup in 2014, and even then the European Parliament called on the IIHF to stop holding the Belarus Championships.
In 2022 the tournament will be held in Finland (Helsinki and Tampere), in 2023 – in Russia (St. Petersburg), in 2024 – in the Czech Republic (Prague and Ostrava) and in 2025 in Sweden and Denmark.
Riga and Minsk defeated the Finnish cities of Helsinki and Tampere in a fierce battle in May 2017. The group stage and semi-finals will be held in Riga and Minsk, while the semi-finals and final will be held in Belarus.
Riga hosted the World Championships in 2006 for the only time ever, and the tournament in Minsk in 2014.