MEP Karin Karlsbro from the Swedish Liberal Party has sent a call for signatures on a letter to the European Parliament with a request not to host the 2021 World Championship in Minsk. It is addressed to the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) and its president, René Fassel.
“Sports should not be politics, but that is no excuse to turn to the blind eye towards what is currently happening in Belarus. We cannot hold a world championship in arenas with protesters being arrested and tortured in the streets outside. To support a regime that is using weapons against their own population is completely unacceptable,” says Karin Karlsbro.
There are also strong suspicions that Dmitry Baskov, president of the Belarusian Ice Hockey Federation and active supporter of the Lukashenko regime, has participated in the oppression and abuse of protesters, reads the statement on karinkarlsbro.eu.
“That the president of the Belarusian ice hockey federation is associated with these horrible attacks on peaceful protesters is very serious. It should be no question for the International Ice Hockey Federation to terminate all collaboration with Baskau [Baskov – Ed.] until an independent investigation has been made. It is unacceptable that no actions have been taken in the matter,” Karlsbro concludes.
Finnish Minister Annika Saarikko in charge of sports also confirmed that this issue has been raised in the European Union. “We are preparing a statement by EU ministers that the championship should not be held in Belarus. We are proactive here. From Finland’s point of view, the security issue comes first and foremost here,” Saarikko told Maaseudun Future.
“The decision to participate in the competition rests with the sports federations. I am satisfied with the actions of Finnish international trade union representative Kalervo Kummola. Kummola demanded that the IIHF not hold the World Championship in Belarus due to the current situation,” added Saarikko.
The 2021 World Championship is to be held in Minsk and Riga from 21 May to 6 June. Earlier, Fasel said that the IIHF has not intention to transfer the Belarusian co-hosting of the championship to another country. Nevertheless, a decision is likely to be made at the IIHF meeting, scheduled to be held on 18-19 November.