Where did they bring the Belarusian dictator?
The recent visit of Aliaksandr Lukashenka to Egypt had, among other things, a sports component. Lukashenka visited the sports complex under construction in the new administrative capital of the country. At the same time, his official website reported that “Aliaksandr Lukashenka was shown the pool under construction, and the ice palace, taking an interest in his Belarusian experience in the construction of such facilities,” writes Tribuna.
The Telegram channel “Pool of the First” (probably belonging to the press-center of Lukashenka) also wrote about this: “The presidents visited the ice palace under construction in Egypt (yes, they also exist in Africa!) Lukashenka shared his experience in building similar sports centers in Belarus.” And they attached this photo.
The state television channel Belarus 1 showed an expanded version of Aliaksandr Lukashenka’s visit to a sports facility under construction.
From three almost official publications, one can make an unambiguous conclusion: this sports complex with four stands is an ice palace under construction. But is it really so?
Let's look at the arena from different angles.
Frankly speaking, the structure does not look like an ice palace. And here are a couple of arguments.
First. There is not much space inside the stands. The dimensions of the hockey box are 60-61 meters in length and 26-30 meters in width (depending on the standard). But even if you choose the narrow Enkhael option, you need space for benches on one side and for penalty benches on the other.
There is definitely neither 60 meters long nor 30 meters wide. It is impossible to enter a standard hockey box here. But, according to the sensations, a handball or mini-football pitch of 40 x 20 meters in size fits perfectly.
Second. The passages to the site are so narrow that no ice-filling machine can go through. In addition, for bulky Zamboni there is absolutely no place outside the site: if you look closely, the street exits are nearby.
Third. Lack of thermal insulation. Look again at the photo above. In Cairo, the air temperature in January often exceeds 20 degrees by Celsius scale. In spring, summer and autumn it is even hotter there. Thin transparent doors at the exits from the site will make it a funeral for the ice.
Fourth. The sports facility does not remind an ice palace, although the construction is almost complete. At the beginning of the year, the sports complex was visited by the Minister of Youth and Sports of Egypt, Ashraf Sobhi. According to him, writes the local website, the sports facility is 95 percent ready. But there is not a hint of a future ice palace in the photographs. For comparison, look at the photographs illustrating the news “The Ice Palace in Tula is 95 percent ready.”
Fifth. In the same material in Arabic there is a detailed list of sports that can be practiced on the territory of the entire sports town in Vedian, and among them there is no ice hockey. The sport is also not mentioned on the site of the Concord Constructions company: “The project includes an indoor hall with a capacity of 7,000 people, which will host the 2021 men's world handball championship.”
A reference to hockey was found in two publications of 2018, however, it is unclear whether ice hockey was meant. According to media reports, the ice arena was planned to be included in the structure of the Chinese built 345-meter skyscraper. But it will certainly be similar to the rinks typical for shopping centers. Well, it certainly has nothing to do with the construction site visited by Aliaksandr Lukashenka.
In addition, if it was planned to play hockey in this room, the local media would certainly have made materials about it. Since there are not so many ice arenas in Africa.
Sixth. The indoor gym, which was visited by Aliaksandr Lukashenka, is really being built for handball. The country will host the next World Cup in this sport. It is not surprising, because the Hassan Mustafa from Egypt leads the International Handball Federation. He, by the way, is pleased with the pace of construction of the indoor arena in Vedian.
Seventh. If you listen to the words of Lukashenka in the report on Belarus 1, taking into account all this information, then they can be interpreted differently. Lukashenka was brought to an indoor arena, which has nothing to do with ice hockey. And he simply suggested thinking about transforming the structure into an ice palace: “We have the same ice platforms, the same concrete floors. We take off the sides, the ice thawed in a day and play volleyball, we hold concerts. Egypt is located in an area where ice hockey can be developed. We once created the first site in the UAE. You can add another function to the multifunctional hall - ice hockey.”
The state media wrote that they asked Lukashenka about the Belarusian experience in the construction of sports facilities. Lukashenka’s advice, however, turned out to be so-so. Firstly, he apparently did not take into account that the hockey arena is much larger than the handball one. Secondly, he made a mistake: no one defrosts ice during a day before volleyball competitions and concerts. It is covered with a special cloth. At the Minsk Arena, it is blue, so employees call it “the blueing”.