"Due to safety and security issues that are beyond the IIHF’s control, the IIHF Council confirmed today that the decision to move the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship from Minsk, Belarus is unavoidable," the organization said.
"With Minsk/Riga 2021 being a joint bid, the IIHF Council must consider the status of Latvia as a co-host, and will also evaluate the possibility of moving to a single-venue format to facilitate COVID-19 safety regulations and team travel," it added.
On January 11, IIHF President Rene Fasel held a meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in Minsk, where the parties discussed preparations for the upcoming world championship. Later, IIHF chief told Sputnik that the final decision on the 2021 World Championship in Belarus would be made within a few days. Fasel also noted that someone put pressure on the sponsors of the tournament so that they refuse to sponsor the tournament if it is not moved from Belarus.
The Ice Hockey World Championship was to be held from May 21 to June 6, 2021, in Minsk and Riga. Earlier, the Belarusian opposition sought international sanctions against the Belarusian authorities, including initiating a boycott or cancellation of the World Ice Hockey Championship in Minsk, and sent relevant appeals to the IIHF.