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IIHF to meet today on the issue of Russian participation in international hockey

Formal announcement is now out.

Ice Hockey 2022 World Juniors Cancelled Due To COVID-19 Cases
Will the WJC be rescheduled for this summer?
Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Yesterday evening and overnight, many European hockey associations demanded Russia and Belarus be excluded entirely from all IIHF activities, or in some cases removed from the organization. Belarus is included in all of these discussions because it is considered to be complicit in the invasion of Ukraine. Today that body meets to decide how to handle the upcoming tournaments.

The scheduled top-level IIHF tournaments for the remainder of 2022 are:

  • Men’s U18 Championships in Landshut and Kaufbeuren, Germany — April 21 - May 1
  • Men’s World Championships in Tampere and Helsinki, Finland — May 13 - 29
  • Women’s World Championships in Herning and Frederikshavn, Denmark — August 26 - September 4
  • Rescheduled Women’s U18 in USA — summer (unofficial)
  • Rescheduled 2022 World Junior Championships in Alberta, Canada — August (unofficial)
  • 2023 World Junior Championships in Novosibirsk and Omsk, Russia — December 26 to Jan 5, 2023

The Swiss issued a release that was co-signed by several countries:

Swiss Ice Hockey strongly condemns Russia’s actions. Swiss Ice Hockey’s thoughts are with the Ukrainian ice hockey family and everyone in Ukraine in this difficult situation. Together with other member associations, Swiss Ice Hockey has submitted an application to the international ice hockey federation IIHF, in which immediate and far-reaching consequences and sanctions against Russia and Belarus - which supports the Russian government in their actions - are required. The application to the IIHF Council calls for, among other things, the immediate exclusion of the Russian and Belarusian ice hockey federations as members of the IIHF and the withdrawal of the U20 World Championship in December 2022 in Novosibirsk and the A World Championship in May 2023 in St. Petersburg.

Later, Finland issued this release:

-We had these discussions actively over the weekend and also held a meeting with Luc Tardiff , President of the International Hockey Federation . We have said that the Finnish Hockey Association demands that Russia and Belarus be completely excluded from international hockey activities and that we do not intend to play against the national teams of these countries, the chairman Harri Nummela says.

- We also stated that it is not possible for Russia and Belarus to participate in the Men’s World Championships in Tampere and Helsinki in May, Nummela says.

Today, the Finnish, Swedish and Czech hockey associations are discussing together what changes the exclusion of Russia from international hockey activities will cause for national team activities between the ECSC countries.

Those three countries plus Russia form the Euro Hockey Tour which plays several national team competitions throughout the playing season.

As of early February 28, Toronto time, the Swedish Ice Hockey Federation has only said the following:

”We in Swedish ice hockey take the terrible situation in Ukraine very seriously and we sympathize with the Ukrainian people. In terms of hockey, we work actively to find common decisions and approaches together with other national federations and the IIHF.”

On Monday, the Swedish federation will meet with Finland and the Czech Republic. After that, the IIHF’s board, of which Larsson is a part, will have an extra meeting where the issue will be discussed.

Larsson does not want to give any further comment until after the meetings.

“We in Swedish ice hockey have a clear compass when it comes to human rights and the equal value of people. A compass we have with us in the deliberations that are now taking place internationally. I consider it unwise for the Swedish side now to make various media moves and statements just hours before decisions are to be made,” writes Anders Larsson.

That comes in a story that Johan Garpenlöv, the coach of the Swedish national team has said he will refuse to play against Russia.

For now, both Hockey Canada and USA Hockey have been silent on this issue. However, Canada, at least, has a big voice in the IIHF.

Luc Tardif, the new president of the IIHF represents France, but was born in Canada. The Senior Vice President is Petr Briza of Czechia. Bob Nicholson of Canada is one of three Vice Presidents. There are no Americans on the council, and the only Russian or Belarusian is Pavel Bure. Nicholson is a former president and CEO of Hockey Canada.

What the IIHF will decide today will likely make most member nations happy, but they may well be unhappy with the scope of the decisions if the IIHF attempts to deal only with the upcoming tournaments, and not with actual membership of Russia and Belarus in the IIHF.

When they make their official announcement, we will update this post.