Author`s name Lyuba Lulko

Should Russia boycott Ice Hockey World Championship in Latvia?

Should the Russian Ice Hockey Federation (FHR) support its colleagues in Belarus and declare a boycott of the 2021 Ice Hockey World Cup in Latvia in protest against the interference of politics in sports?

Fasel explains why Belarus can not host Ice Hockey tournament

President of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Rene Fasel said in an interview with TASS that the decision to cancel the World Ice Hockey Championship in Minsk was made under political pressure.

"I realized that the reaction from the Eastern European, Western media and the political pressure was very strong, especially in Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Germany. I would say that it is more about political pressure rather than the situation with sponsors. This is a bad situation, but I think that it is very difficult for us to go against it," Rene Fasel said.

Fasel also referred to pressure on the part of the Belarusian sports community.

"We knew that before our visit to Minsk, a week before that, the Belarusian Sports Fund (the Sports Solidarity Fund of Belarus, BSSF. - Ed.) wrote letters to IIHF sponsors, urging them not to support the tournament and boycott it. Therefore, we have serious problems with both sponsors and politically," Fasel added.

In other words, Fasel was trying to show resistance to Western politicians and colleagues, but when a move was made directly from Belarus, he gave up. As a matter  of fact, Fasel perfectly understands where something is coming from. He knows that sponsors did not give for no reason either.

Who is behind the "ordinary Belarusians"

The BSSF, according to its social media portfolio, operates under the BYSOL common solidarity fund, "to provide support to the athletes who were detained and faced repressions for taking part in peaceful manifestations."

"It is funded by citizens of Belarus and Belarusians living abroad. There is no European or American money there. The formula is simple - Belarusians help Belarusians," one of the authors of the fund wrote on by.tribuna.com.

However, the head of the fund, who fled to Latvia and ended her sports career in swimming, Aleksandra Gerasimenya, is more outspoken.

"And here I would like to separately thank big sponsors for their position and for the fact that they put human rights, but not financial interests at the forefront," Aleksandra Gerasimenya wrote on the Facebook page of the fund commenting on the cancellation of the World Ice Championship in Minsk.

It is Soros institutions of American globalists that deal with all the work related to human rights in the world. It was them, but not "ordinary Belarusians" or national hockey federations of the Czech Republic, Sweden, Germany, Denmark, who "convinced" Nivea and Skoda to withdraw their sponsorship initiatives.

Their motive is also obvious: they do not want to punish someone else's "son of a bitch." The goal is to include Belarus in the Russophobic camp of the Baltic states to put pressure on Russia.

Aleksandra Gerasimenya has been involved in politics since August, when her fund was used as an internal factor to justify IOC sanctions against the national team of Belarus. Noteworthy, the President of Belarus presented the Olympic medalist with a $400,000 plot of land in 2018, and Gerasimenya did not refuse. Today, however, she claims that sports does not work outside politics.

Russia says nothing

The Russian Ice Hockey Federation (RIHF) did not officially react to the IIHF's decision. However, a source told TASS that the RIHF would support any decision of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) regarding the venue for the 2021 World Championship.

No one really said anything. There were a few comments from former athletes, coaches, and sports politicians in the Russian Parliament. The Russian Foreign Ministry did not say anything either.  Indeed, the IIHF did not support Russia during the doping scandal, so Russia should not support the IIHF now. Is it right, though? It appears not.

In response to the boycott of the Olympic Games in Moscow, the Soviet Union boycotted the Olympics in Los Angeles. There was a strong Warsaw bloc, which showed its support, but the mutual boycott caused equal damage to Western sponsors, advertisers and sports in the West in general.

Nowadays, it would be correct for Russia and Belarus to boycott the World Ice Hockey Championship in Latvia or any other country where it is going to be relocated.

"We do not support Lukashenko, but we do support Belarusian athletes whom politicians deprive of their professions." That would be the right position for Russia to take.

Is boycott a sign of weakness?

Dmitry Svishchev, a member of the State Duma Committee on Physical Culture, Sports and Youth Affairs, President of the Russian Curling Federation, told Pravda.Ru that there should be no boycotts coming either from Russia or Belarus.

"We should definitely participate in competitions, because millions of fans, children, athletes, and common people who love sports - they are waiting for the Ice Hockey World Championship. This is one of the brightest events in the world of ice hockey, and in the world of sports in general. We must participate. Therefore, we should understand and defend the interests of our country. It will not be easy, but we will have to do it. I think that boycotts are a manifestation of weakness," the MP said.

He believes that "taking away" sports competitions from any country is fraught with complex geopolitical problems.

"They can take away the World Championship from us tomorrow, the day after tomorrow - the Olympic Games, they can take away the film festival, they can take away the festival of folk arts. When you decide to hold a sports competition, you take into account your political risks. If the country won, then one should go for it. So much work has been done and so much money has been spent  - one should take all that into account," Dmitry Svishchev told Pravda.Ru.

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