The International Ice Hockey Federation had to move the games from Minsk under the pressure of Belorussian opposition.
The International Ice Hockey Federation announced the postponement of the matches of the 2021 World Cup, which were supposed to be held in Minsk. The federation called the reason for this change "security considerations." On Monday, the IIHF Council confirmed that the decision to transfer the 2021 Ice Hockey World Championship from Minsk is "inevitable".
The Federation refers to the relevant clause in the regulations, according to which the IIHF Council is given “the opportunity to withdraw the Ice Hockey World Championship from the host country if there are grounds for concern about the welfare or safe freedom of movement of players, officials, spectators and the media”.
On Saturday, three major sponsors of the games, a carmaker Škoda, perfume maker Nivea and watchmaker Tissot, stated that they would withdraw their funding if the Championships takes place in Minsk.
"It is what happens when people unite"
A leader of Belorussian opposition Ms. Svetlana Tikhanovskaya welcomed the decision.
It is a victory, because there will be no additional wave of repression for the sake of "cleansing" the city before the World Cup, Ms Tikhanovskaya stressed. It is a victory, because Lukashenka failed to pretend that he had everything under control. It is a victory, because the Belarusians have achieved their goal - and they did it together, she emphasised.
She named Ms. Alexandra Gerasimeni, the Sports Solidarity Fund, the Belarusian diaspora and the international team of the Cabinet of Representatives and Pavel Latushko, Veronica and Valery Tsepkalo as the main authors of the victory.
This is what happens when people unite. I believe that together we are able to free political prisoners and prevent our country from being turned into a “camp”, she concluded.
Belorussians continue to protest in the country
In Belarus, since August 9, mass protests of citizens who disagree with the results of the presidential elections have continued, in which Alexander Lukashenko, who has held this post since 1994, was declared the winner. Many protesters were arrested, beaten and tortured.
President of the International Ice Hockey Federation Rene Fasel on January 11 met in Minsk with the head of the Belarusian state Alexander Lukashenko. Fazel complained in a conversation with Lukashenko that the federation is under pressure from opponents of the championship in Belarus - because of the internal political situation in this country.
Lukashenko then assured Fasel that Belarus is ready to host the World Ice Hockey Championship itself, without Latvia, which is the second country to host the tournament. The Latvian authorities, as well as representatives of a number of other countries, human rights organizations and Belarusian activists, opposed the holding of some of the championship matches in Belarus.