Jan 19, 2021 18:01 UTC
  •  Belarus slams being removed as co-host of ice hockey world c’ship

Belarus has criticized the “groundless” decision to strip the country of its role as co-host of this year’s ice hockey world championships.

In a statement on the Belarusian government website on Tuesday, the Organizing Committee for the tournament in Minsk voiced its regret at “the groundless decision.”

The committee called the decision a precedent for using sport competitions as an instrument “to please the interests of political demagogues.”

Belarus and Latvia were due to co-host the event from May 21 to June 6, but calls had mounted in recent weeks by members of the Belarusian opposition and European Union member states to remove Minsk as a host.

The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) said on Monday that the world championship would not be held in Belarus, citing concerns about the political unrest and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The IIHF’s decision was welcomed by Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who said it was the result of lobbying by Lukashenko’s opponents.