U.S. Congress Urges IIHF To Deprive Minsk Of Ice Hockey Championship

Members of the U.S. Congress and European parliamentarians wrote an open letter to President of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Rene Fasel, asking to deprive Minsk of the right to host the 2021 World Ice Hockey Championship. Democratic Congressman Bill Keating shared the letter on Twitter.

“Next year your organization is scheduled to host the International Ice Hockey World Championship in the capitals of Belarus and Latvia. Unfortunately, we, members of Congress and parliamentarians, believe that Belarus has lost this great privilege given the level of violence government forces have used against their own citizens.

As you are aware, in early August, even as COVID-19 rampaged across Belarus without an effective government response, Belarus held a presidential election that has since been internationally recognized as fraudulent. In response, the citizens of Belarus have protested the results every day through peaceful demonstrations. Protestors, journalists, and members of civil society have withstood unspeakable violence at the hands of Alexander Lukashenko, and the now illegitimate government he leads.

We join them in demanding accountability for these crimes. Our message has been clear: the voices of the Belarusian people must be heard, the crackdown on peaceful demonstrators must end, and all those who have been unjustly detained must be released. Lukashenko must immediately engage in dialogue with the Coordination Council and new, free and fair elections must be organized based on international standards, with international election observers.

That is why we request that you reconsider hosting next year’s Ice Hockey World Championship in Belarus. The safety of our athletes is at risk due to continued government violence and lack of responsibility demonstrated in handling the COVID-19 pandemic. Belarus, and any other country that does not represent the ethos of good sportsmanship and human rights, should not enjoy the privilege of hosting such a coveted event until the rights, freedoms and sovereignty of their people are fully respected and represented by their government.”