MINSK, 13 January (BelTA) – Top officials of the 2021 IIHF World Championship organizing committee met with President of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Rene Fasel during his visit to Belarus on 11 January. A statement by the organizing committee has been published on the Belarusian government's official website, BelTA has learned.
According to the source, the sides discussed preparations for the 2021 IIHF World Championship in an open and constructive manner. A sincere exchange of opinions took place, including opinions about the matters the IIHF is interested in such as certain aspects of the situation in Belarus. The Belarusian side confirmed its readiness to host the 2021 IIHF World Championship. The country is ready to implement the entire complex of the necessary measures and events, including organizational and antiepidemic ones. The Belarusian side is also ready to ensure the safety, security, and comfortable stay of 2021 IIHF World Championship participants and guests taking into account the IIHF's recommendations.
The organizing committee also said what matters had been raised during the meeting and what answers had been given. It is stressed that in the course of organizing the 2021 IIHF World Championship the Belarusian side will follow the recommendations and rules the IIHF has introduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Foreign mass media will be granted access to accreditation. The Belarusian side guarantees that Internet access will be stable. The Belarusian side also guarantees total security of participants and guests in accordance with national commitments as well as total security during all the other international sport events, which take place in Belarus.
According to the source, reports about the expulsion of Belarusian athletes from national teams and their exclusion from competitions due to their political convictions are baseless. The Belarusian side will provide the International Ice Hockey Federation with all the necessary facts, which had been previously repeatedly sent to the International Olympic Committee and other international sport bodies. The Belarusian side admitted that individual athletes had indeed been arrested and had faced prosecution in strict compliance with Belarusian legislation for participating in events that disrupt public order.
The IIHF's complaints about Chairman of the Belarusian Ice Hockey Federation Dmitry Baskov were also addressed. “The Belarusian side relies on the principle of presumption of innocence as the basic legal postulate but as a gesture of good will the Belarusian side is ready to arrange a meeting of representatives of the IIHF Disciplinary Committee with Belarus' prosecutor general for the sake of their getting familiar with results of pre-investigation queries,” the statement reads.
According to the source, the Belarusian side is ready for a dialogue with Latvia (the championship's other co-host country) as well as with any other countries in order to discuss the best organization of the 2021 IIHF World Championship. “Tying the championship's organization to amendments of the Constitution, the organization of some dialogue and some other domestic affairs of Belarus is absurd by itself. But since this topic is constantly enforced from the outside, the Belarusian side would like to inform that a genuine public dialogue began quite a long time ago (in October 2020) in the form of dialogue platforms all over the country. About 4,500 proposals from citizens, public organizations, and collectives were submitted via the dialogue platforms. Over 2,000 proposals about various aspects of development of the state and the society were submitted by citizens to community liaison offices. The process continues,” the 2021 IIHF World Championship organizing committee stated. The committee also reminded that delegates of the Belarusian People's Congress, which is due in February 2021, will take into account these proposals in order to work out directions of the country's social and political development, including the main approaches to amending the Constitution, which can be later adopted only by the Belarusian nation at a referendum.
The statement reads: “Belarusian authorities are open to any dialogue with the citizens, who have different views on both constitutional matters and any other aspects concerning the future development of the country but while not standing on the knees and while not facing external pressure. We expect the International Ice Hockey Federation to strictly follow principles of the Olympic movement, the uniting role of sport competitions in the interests of all fans of this vivid and high-spirited kind of sport instead of catering to ambitions of political opportunists.”