ZURICH — Teams from Russia and Belarus were banned from all next season’s world championships, including the women’s event in the United States, by the International Ice Hockey Federation on Wednesday.
The IIHF cited safety concerns for players, competition staff and fans – due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine – to extend the ban, which will extend beyond two years after the end of the 2023-24 season.
“It’s too early,” IIHF President Luc Tardif said of Russia’s return. “Too many risks.”
The women’s World Cup is scheduled to be held in US cities in March or April next year, and the men’s event in the Czech Republic is scheduled for next May.
Ice hockey is a favorite sport played by both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.
The Russian Ice Hockey Federation dismissed the IIHF’s safety concerns as a “trumped-up reason” to keep its teams out of the competition.
“It is a decision that is neither constructive nor beneficial for world hockey,” the association said in a statement.
The IIHF followed orders from the International Olympic Committee within days of Russia starting the war in February last year to remove Russian teams from international competitions and find new hosts for events the country was set to host.
However, the IOC is now urging Olympic sports federations to find ways to include Russian and Belarusian athletes as neutral participants in qualifying events for the Paris 2024 Games. The international governing bodies for judo and fencing have said this year that they are ready to welcome Russian and Belarusian athletes back.
The IOC Executive Board is scheduled to discuss the Russia issue at a meeting next Tuesday in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Tardif said after a decision by the governing council he chairs, the IIHF must decide next year whether Russia and Belarus can participate in the 2026 Winter Games in Milan-Cortina d’Ampezzo.