International Hockey Body Rejects Russia, Belarus Appeals

The disciplinary board of the International Ice Hockey Federation on Tuesday rejected appeals by Russia and Belarus of the IIHF’s decision to ban the countries from competition over Russia’s February invasion of Ukraine.

In a prepared statement, the board said it agreed with the IIHF Council’s Feb. 28 decision to suspend all Russian and Belarusian national teams and clubs from participation in international competitions, which was announced four days after the invasion. Moscow calls its actions in Ukraine a “special military operation,” for which Belarus is a key staging area.

The panel on Tuesday reiterated language from the late-February ruling, which was described as “not a sanction but … a safety policy.”

The board also said the policy was not discriminatory and was proportionate, explaining that the policy aims to ensure the safety of players, fans and other tournament participants.

The panel on Tuesday also ruled in favor of the IIHF decision to not assign any Russians to serve as on-ice officials during IIHF competitions.

“The independent board supported our view that it would have been an unacceptable safety risk to either host the (world junior championship) and (world championship) in Russia or to have the Russian and Belarusian teams currently participating in IIHF competitions,” said IIHF President Luc Tardif in a statement released to the press.

Russia and Belarus could still take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Neither Russia nor Belarus played at the men’s world championship in May, which host nation Finland won.

Russia was also stripped of the right to host next year’s men’s world championship, which was to be played in St. Petersburg.

Some information in this report came from Reuters and RFE/RL.

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