The 2021 Ice Hockey World Championship has been pulled from Belarus after its organizers declared they would not allow the country to host the tournament due to safety concerns brought on by political upheaval in the country.

The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) said on Monday that Minsk would no longer be a suitable location for the tournament, which had originally been planned to take place in both Minsk and Riga, the capital city of Latvia. Alexander Lukashenko, the leader of Belarus and a fan of the sport of hockey, is likely going to be dismayed by the news.

As a result of the huge demonstrations that took place in Belarus in August against the results of the election, a decision has been reached. Lukashenko has declared himself the winner of the election after receiving 80 percent of the vote, but opposition MPs are contesting the results.

Since then, people have turned to the streets to protest, and they have been greeted with opposition from the police. There have been rumors going around that some members of the public have been held captive and tortured during these protests.

Skoda Auto and Liqui Moly, two of the tournament’s sponsors, have threatened to withdraw their support if the competition is not relocated to a different nation because of the ongoing instability in Belarus. This has led to fears that the ice hockey championship could become involved in violence.

Lukashenko provided the event organizers with reassurance the previous week that it was still safe to hold the competition in Minsk.

However, the IIHF stated that “it is now impossible to assure the welfare of teams, spectators, and officials while staging a World Championship in Belarus.” This conclusion was reached after speaking with many experts and stakeholders.

Lukashenko had a meeting with the President of the IIHF, Rene Fasel, the week before and gave him his word that Belarus was capable of hosting the event securely. Just a few days after the events that took place in the United States Capitol, he made this statement: “Protesters and other unsatisfied individuals do not storm government offices and capitols here.”

In a statement, Aliaksandra Herasimenia, who has won three medals at the Olympics and currently serves as the head of the Belarusian Sport Solidarity Foundation (BSSF), said the following: “The decision made by the IIHF has helped to restore people’s faith in the fairness of the world. It is unacceptable for sporting competitions to take place in nations where civilians are subjected to acts of brutality and torture.”

The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) stated that it would take into consideration the status of Latvia as a co-host given that it had submitted a joint bid with Belarus. Additionally, the IIHF stated that there is a possibility of holding the tournament at a single venue in order to make travel more convenient and to make it easier to implement health measures.

Edgars Rinkevics, the Foreign Minister of Latvia, stated that his country will live up to its commitment and investigate the many ways in which it may host the entire event, which will take place between May 21 and June 6.

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