The International Ice Hockey Federation announced on Wednesday that Russia and Belarus will be banned from all world championships next season, including the Women’s World Championships scheduled to be held in the United States.
The IIHF cited security concerns for players, competition staff and fans because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: “It is too soon,” IIHF President Luc Tardif said, adding the IIHF will decide in the next year if the ban will extend through the 2026 Olympic Winter Games in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.
The women’s event will be in either March or April of next year with USA Hockey visiting final bid candidates soon. The men’s event is scheduled for next May in the Czech Republic. Ice hockey is a favorite sport played by both Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has publicly in the past played exhibitions with NHL players from Russia, and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.
The IIHF has followed guidance given by the International Olympic Committee within days of Russia starting the war in February last year to remove Russian teams from international competitions and to find new hosts for events the country was to stage. The IOC is now pushing Olympic sports governing bodies to find ways to include Russian and Belarusian athletes as neutrals in qualifying events for the 2024 Paris Games; European Union lawmakers condemned the IOC’s decision in February, saying allowing Russians and Belarusians to compete under a neutral flag “runs counter to those countries’ multifaceted isolation and will be used by both regimes for propaganda purposes.”
The IOC executive board starts three days of meetings next Tuesday in Lausanne, Switzerland, with the Russian and Belarusian issue on the agenda.