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World’s ice hockey body IIHF rejects Russian, Belarusian appeals against their ban

The Deciding Panel determined that the decision of the IIHF Council on February 28th was not a sanction but was a safety policy, the statement reads

MOSCOW, July 5. /TASS/. The Disciplinary Board of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) has turned down appeals from the national hockey federations of Russia and Belarus against their previously imposed suspensions from all international tournaments, the IIHF said in a statement on Tuesday.

"The independent IIHF Disciplinary Board has rejected the appeals submitted by the Russian and Belarusian Ice Hockey Federations against the IIHF Council decision to disallow the participation of Russian and Belarusian national teams from IIHF competitions," according to the statement.

The IIHF Congress, hosted by Finland’s Tampere on May 27, voted that national teams of Russia and Belarus would be sided at the 2023 World Championship, just like at the recent 2022 Ice Hockey World Championship, due to the ongoing developments in Ukraine.

The statement reads that "With respect to these appeals, the Deciding Panel determined… that the decision of the IIHF Council on February 28th was not a sanction but was a safety policy," adding that "the safety policy was not discriminatory and was proportionate."

"The Deciding Panel further ruled in favor of the IIHF with respect to the IIHF Council’s decision to withdraw the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship and the 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship hosting rights from Russia citing that the IIHF Council had the legal authority in accordance with the IIHF Bylaws to withdraw these Championships based on the Council’s legitimate concerns for the safety and freedom of movement of players, fans, spectators and the media," according to the statement from the world’s governing ice hockey body.

The IIHF announced in late April a decision to cancel its previously scheduled 2023 Ice Hockey World Championship in Russia’s Saint Petersburg. The global organization also canceled the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship, slated to be hosted by the Russian cities of Novosibirsk and Omsk.

Commenting on the decision IIHF President Luc Tardif stated: "We welcome the decision of the independent IIHF Disciplinary Board, which supports the IIHF Council’s decision to disallow the participation of the Russian and Belarusian teams and to withdraw the two World Championship program events that were scheduled to take place in Russia next season."

"We maintain that this decision was taken out of concern for the safety and well-being of players, staff, officials, media, and spectators, and we are pleased that the Board has agreed," Tardif continued.

"The independent board supported our view that it would have been an unacceptable safety risk to either host the WM20 and WM in Russia or to have the Russian and Belarusian teams currently participating in IIHF competitions," the IIHF president added.

IIHF’s previously planned 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 was under construction at that time and once completed it was to become the biggest ice arena in Europe with capacity seating ranging between 21,500 and 23,000.

The other arena in St. Petersburg was 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).