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Putin and Lukashenko take to the ice on same team for Sochi hockey match

There were no spectators at the stands except for accredited journalists working at the Investment Forum in Sochi

SOCHI, February 15. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin and President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko plaed ice hockey on Friday at the Shayba Arena in the Russian resort city of Sochi.

Both presidents were wearing red and white jerseys playing for team Tigers against team Bears, dressed in blue and red uniforms. Putin was wearing jersey No. 11, while Lukashenko’s jersey is No. 1. Nikolai Lukashenko, the son of the Belarusian president was also on the ice, wearing jersey No. 1 as well.

The match was not official and therefore there are no spectators at the stands except for accredited journalists working at the Investment Forum in Sochi.

Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists earlier in the day that Putin and Lukashenko were most likely to play ice hockey after their bilateral meeting at the Educational Center Sirius.

"Both leaders will continue their contacts today in various formats and we think it is possible that they would decide to play ice hockey later in the afternoon," Peskov said adding that the Russian president "feels marvelous" although he sustained a slight injury last night during a judo practice.

Putin attended a judo training in the ‘Yug Sport’ center in Sochi late on Thursday and sparred with several Olympic champions. A finger on his right hand was slightly injured in the process, but the problem was solved with a piece of adhesive bandage, and the training continued.

The 66-year-old Russian president, known for his avid support of sports development in Russia, is a black belt holder in judo and he regularly practices.

In 2012, the International Judo Federation granted Putin an eighth Dan for his work to promote this sport. In his youth Putin was judo champion of his home city Leningrad, now called St. Petersburg. In 2008, he starred in the judo video "Let's Learn Judo With Vladimir Putin."

The Russian leader first appeared on the ice, playing hockey in 2012, just several hours after his inauguration and it was as part of the traditional Night Ice Hockey League. He has played regularly since then at this annual event and during the most recent match of the Night Ice Hockey League on December 29, 2018 on Moscow’s Red Square Putin scored an opening goal that led his team to 14-10 win over the opponents.

The Night Ice Hockey League was established at Putin’s initiative several years ago. Hockey enthusiasts started gathering at sports stadiums during their spare time, usually late in the evening (hence the league’s name) to play their favorite game just for fun.