13 April 2021, Tuesday, 6:32
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Even Friend Fasel Didn't Help

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Even Friend Fasel Didn't Help

How the dictator's favorite toy was taken away from him.

The Council of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) deprived Belarus of the right to host the 2021 World Cup.

The decision was made in connection with "security issues that are beyond the control of the IIHF," after "due diligence," the federation said.

In particular, the federation charter provides for the deprivation of the right to organize the World Cu p if there is reason to worry about the health or safe movement of players, officials, foreign fans, and media representatives, naviny.media writes.

It is emphasized that the IIHF conducted a "fair and impartial" assessment of the situation with the involvement of independent experts and all interested parties who were interviewed about the possibility of holding the World Cup in the context of growing political instability and COVID-19.

The final stage of the analysis was a meeting with the Belarusian authorities on January 11 and the adoption of a new expert opinion.

The IIHF Council has concluded that it is currently impossible to ensure the well-being of teams, spectators, and officials during the World Cup.

"It's a pity that the joint application of Minsk and Riga had to be canceled," said IIHF President Rene Fasel. "We tried to help ensure that the World Cup could be used as a tool for reconciliation, to help calm the socio-political situation in Belarus and find a positive way forward."

According to Fasel, the IIHF Council believes that the World Cup should not be used for political propaganda by any side but recognizes the inappropriateness of this event in Minsk when it comes to more serious problems and the priority of the safety of teams, spectators, and officials.

The IIHF will later consider the status of Latvia as a co-organizer of the tournament, as well as the possibility of holding it in one country to facilitate the observance of security measures in connection with the covid and the movement of participating teams.

How Lukashenka's favorite toy was taken away

On August 13 last year, four days after the presidential elections in Belarus and the start of protests against the falsification of their results, Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins said that he did not see how the championship could be organized together with Belarus.

The appeal of the Latvian government to transfer the rights of the main organizer from Belarus to another country was considered at the meeting of the IIHF Council on September 17. Council members decided to ask experts to analyze the situation. Their report was submitted two months later. The IIHF management stated that more time is needed to make a final decision.

On November 16, Latvia banned entry into the country of the chairman of the Belarusian Ice Hockey Federation, Dzmitry Baskau, who was at the center of the scandal surrounding Raman Bandarenka's death.

On September 17, the European Parliament urged not to hold World Cup 2021 matches in Minsk. The same position has been publicly expressed by some high-profile politicians and hockey officials from at least seven of the 16 participating countries.

On January 11, at a meeting with Fasel in Minsk, Lukashenka said that Belarus is ready to host the World Ice Hockey Championship if Latvia refuses to participate in its organization.

"Answering the main question, how I perceive all the movements around the World Championship in Belarus, I will say frankly: very calmly. If the International Ice Hockey Federation will be able to resist the pressure, it means that we will hold the World Championship. If Latvia refuses, we will hold the World Championship in Belarus, and it will be the best world championship in history," Lukashenka said.

"If the International Ice Hockey Federation does not cope with the pressure, then there will be no World Championship in Belarus. It all depends on you now," he added.

Lukashenka assured that, in Belarus, there is no and will not be any danger "neither from the coronavirus nor from the point of view of political security or physical safety of people who live here and come to us as guests."

According to Lukashenka, "protesters and other disaffected people do not storm government offices and capitols." "We have a completely normal situation in terms of the development of democratic processes. And this is the main reason for dissatisfaction with Belarus of certain politicians in Europe," Lukashenka said.

Fasel's visit to Minsk, primarily his warm hugs with Lukashenka and a joint photo with Dzmitry Baskau, drew criticism in the European media.

"I wanted to use my special relationship with Lukashenka to do something good. For the World Cup to bring about a kind of reconciliation between the government and the opposition. But something didn't work out, and it's unpleasant for me too," the IIHF President said in an interview with Swiss Radio and Television.

In turn, Latvia declared that it was unacceptable to host the World Cup in Minsk.

"I confirm the position of Latvia that the holding of the World Ice Hockey Championship in Minsk is completely unacceptable, repressions against peaceful demonstrators, including athletes, make such an event immoral and contrary to the principles of sports behavior," - wrote the Minister of Foreign Affairs Edgars Rinkēvičs on January 11 on his Twitter page.

The Czech automaker Škoda, the brand of men's cosmetics Nivea Men, and the manufacturer of motor oils Liqui Moly (both from Germany) refused to sponsor the World Cup in Minsk. Another permanent sponsor, the Swiss watch manufacturer Tissot, expressed concern about the human rights situation in Belarus in a letter to the IIHF.