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MOSCOW, January 21. /TASS/. President of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Rene Fasel, who is currently visiting Russia, told TASS on Thursday he personally sent an invitation to Russian President Vladimir Putin to attend the opening ceremony of the 2016 World Championship.
The matches of the 2016 IIHF World Championship are scheduled to be held in the country’s capital of Moscow and in Russia’s second largest city of St. Petersburg between May 6 and 22.
In an interview with TASS, Fasel said he would "be happy" if Putin would attend the opening ceremony and knew for sure that the Russian president would come to see some of the matches.
Fasel also said he believed that ice hockey in Russia was even more popular than football and besides Russia such passion for the sport can only be seen in Canada.
Fasel, who is heading an IIHF commission, visited the VTB Ice Palace in Moscow on Thursday and the Yubileny Arena in St. Petersburg on Wednesday.
Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, who escorted Fasel on Thursday in Moscow, said the IIHF president was personally supervising Russia’s preparations for the 2016 World Championship.
"I am glad that we had the chance of discussing all issues," Mutko said. "The IIHF president keeps all issues under his personal control. Yesterday they were in St. Petersburg and today at the Ice Palace."
This will be the 7th IIHF World Championship held in Russia as it was hosted by Moscow five times, namely in 1957, 1973, 1979, 1986 and 2007, and once by St. Petersburg in 2000.