MOSCOW, May 26. /TASS/. The decision of the municipal authorities of Riga to swap the Russian state flags around Latvia’s capital with those of the Russian Olympic Committee during the 2021 Ice Hockey World Championship complies with Latvia’s ‘blatant Russophobic course,’ Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday.
On May 24, Riga’s City Council said that Russia’s flags, which had been flying among those of other participating teams in the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship along the streets of Riga, were replaced with the Russian Olympic Committee’s (ROC) flags. The Russian Embassy in Latvia excoriated Riga’s local authorities for replacing Russia’s flags in the city with those of the ROC.
"Unfortunately, such undignified manipulations perfectly fit with an obvious Russophobic policy on behalf of the Latvian supreme executives," Zakharova told journalists.
Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists on Tuesday that a recent episode regarding the replacement of the Russian national flag with the ROC flag in Riga during the 2021 IIHF (the International Ice Hockey Federation) Ice Hockey World Championship needs to be carefully studied to see whether it may have come from sports officials regarding last year’s CAS (the Court of Arbitration for Sport) ruling or not.
According to last year’s ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), Russian athletes are prohibited until December 2022 from participating in world championships and Olympic Games under the national flag and to the tune of the national anthem.
Therefore, the Russian national ice hockey team is participating at the 2021 IIHF World Championship in Latvia wearing uniforms with the logo of the Russian Olympic Committee, a flame and the Olympic rings.
In mid-April, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) approved the use of Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto for the awarding ceremonies of Russian athletes at this summer’s Tokyo-hosted Olympic Games and the same musical piece is now played after victories by the Russian ice hockey squad at the championship in Riga.
Riga is hosting the 2021 Ice Hockey Championship between May 21 and June 6. The championship’s matches are being played at two venues in the Latvian capital.
The main venue is the Arena Riga, where the Group B matches, two quarter-final games, the semi-final round and the medal round are being held. The second venue is the Olympic Sports Centre, which has been converted into a 6,000-capacity ice rink, where the Group A matches and two quarter-final games are being hosted. All 16 participating teams are being accommodated in one hotel and the tournament is organized utilizing social bubles.