MOSCOW, September 22. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his gratitude to the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) on Wednesday, emphasizing that it can always count on Russia’s support and cooperation.
"I would like to thank the international federation for its steadfast constructive cooperation and trust," Putin said in his welcoming message to the participants of the IIHF Congress, which is currently underway in Russia’s second-largest city of St. Petersburg.
"You have chosen Russia more than once to host [IIHF] World Championships and this is especially meaningful for and appreciated by Russian society," Putin’s statement, posted on the Kremlin’s official website, reads.
"We are eagerly looking forward to the [IIHF] World Junior Championship, which is slated to start at the end of the year in Novosibirsk and Omsk, and the 2023 [IIHF] World Championship in St. Petersburg," he said.
The Russian president also noted that "in terms of the implementation of its programs and projects, the federation can always count on Russia as a reliable partner and comrade in bolstering the global position of the sport of ice hockey and its mass popularization."
The sport of ice hockey is one of Russia’s most popular sports and the country has the right to be proud of its results on behalf of the national ice hockey school, according to Putin.
"This dynamic, spectacular and simply beautiful sport is among the most popular, in-demand and favorite sports [in Russia]," Putin said.
"We [Russians] have the right to be proud of our glorious traditions and achievements on behalf of the national ice hockey school, as well as on behalf of our outstanding national players; and we are attentively following the global ice hockey developments, enthusiastically watching the matches of all ice hockey teams and playing matches on our part," the Russian president said.
Putin added that in line with the official data, last year over 620,000 people were officially practicing ice hockey in the country, including some 74,000 junior players, who are students of sports schools.
IIHF tournaments in Russia
In September 2018, the Russian city of St. Petersburg was chosen by the IIHF management to host the world championship in 2023, scheduling the dates on May 5-21. The May 2019 IIHF Congress in Bratislava greenlighted this decision.
The Russian bid offered up two arenas in St. Petersburg to host the matches of the ice hockey world championship in 2023. One of them is currently under construction and once completed it may become the biggest ice arena in Europe with capacity seating ranging between 21,500 and 23,000.
The other arena in St. Petersburg will be the Ice Palace, which is currently the home stadium for KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg club and boasts an over 12,300-seat capacity.
The world’s governing body of ice hockey also announced in 2018 that the Siberian cities of Novosibirsk and Omsk would be the venues for matches of the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship (December 26, 2022 - January 5, 2023).