RIGA, February 3. /TASS/. The government of Latvia decided to allocate additional three million euros ($3.6 million) for the organization of the 2021 Ice Hockey World Championship in the country’s capital of Riga, Edgars Severs, the head of the Sports Department with the Latvian Education and Science Ministry, said on Wednesday.
The Council of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) announced on Tuesday that the Latvian capital of Riga would be the sole host for all matches of the 2021 Ice Hockey World Championship. The decision was made after matches in Belarus, which was initially set to co-host the championship with Latvia, had been cancelled.
"Our weak point was the lack of the second arena," Severs said addressing a news conference. "In order to organize the Ice Hockey World Championship, an arena of a certain size is required and it must be in compliance with definite requirements."
"In order to bring the arena that we have in compliance with the requirements, the government of Latvia allocated the sum of three million euros for this purpose," he said. "This decision was made during the Cabinet of Ministers session on January 21."
The 2021 Ice Hockey Championship will be played at two venues in Riga. The main venue will be the Arena Riga and it will host Group B, two quarter-final games, the semi-final round and the medal round. The second venue will be the Olympic Sports Centre, which will be converted into a 6,000-capacity ice rink and will host Group A and two quarter-final games. All 16 participating teams will be housed in one hotel.
Severs also said that the IIHF estimated the total cost of the Ice Hockey World Championship’s organization at 14 million euros (over $16.8 million), with two million euros ($2.4 million) of this sum assigned for the development, observance and monitoring of measures against COVID-19.
Aigars Kalvitis, the president of the Latvian Ice Hockey Federation (LHF), confirmed that the IIHF estimates the championship in Latvia at 14 million euros.
"The IIHF budget will be approximately 12 million euros, plus two million euros allocated for the COVID-19 protocol," Kalvitis said speaking at the same news conference with Severs. "The added up sum is 14 million euros and this is what we have on the paper now, but this sum is still a subject for specific adjustments."
On January 18, the IIHF Council announced a decision to strip the Belarusian capital of Minsk of the right to host matches of the 2021 Ice Hockey World Championship and to relocate them to another venue. The IIHF said in a statement at that time it made that decision "Due to safety and security issues that are beyond the IIHF’s control."
Matches of the 2021 IIHF World Championship in the Latvian capital of Riga and the Belarusian capital of Minsk were scheduled to be played between May 21 and June 6, 2021. However, various European public organizations called on the IIHF to relocate championship’s matches from Minsk due to a tense political situation in Belarus. Tournament’s sponsors also threatened to leave in case Belarus hosted the championship.
The IIHF Council considered three options to substitute cancelled matches in Belarus - Latvia’s Riga hosting all matches of the championship or co-hosting the championship either with Denmark’s Herning or Slovakia’s Bratislava.