International Ice Hockey Federation | Russia and Belarus still excluded

(Zurich) Russia and Belarus will be excluded from the Ice Hockey World Championship for another year, until the 2024-25 season, the sport’s governing body announced on Monday, citing security risks linked to the military invasion of Ukraine.

The International Ice Hockey Federation (FIHG) said “it is not yet safe to reincorporate Russian and Belarusian teams into FIHG competitions.”

The latest renewal of the ban will take countries’ exclusion to more than three years, with “safety concerns for players, competition staff and fans” previously cited.

“This decision will also apply to the Belarusian team in the final Olympic qualifying round scheduled for August,” the FIHG said.

The next Winter Olympics are scheduled to open on February 6, 2026 in northern Italy and hockey will be played in Milan with NHL players for the first time since 2014 in Sochi, Russia.

The FIHG has set May next year as the deadline for its council to decide whether Russia and Belarus can return in time for the Olympics.

During the recent NHL All-Star Game weekend in Toronto, Russian forward Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning was asked if his country was going to participate in the Olympic Games.

“I want to go – I think everyone wants to go, and it means a lot for the country,” Kucherov said.

“I hope, fingers crossed, that we will be at the Olympics, that the Russian team will be at the Olympics. And it will be a real duel between the best, because when the Russian team is not on the field, it’s not the same thing. »

The Russian team won gold at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics and silver in 2022 in Beijing.

Ice hockey is the favorite sport of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

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