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Russia, Belarus banned by International Ice Hockey Federation

United States v Latvia: Group B - 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship

RIGA, LATVIA - MAY 27: Official match puck during the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship group stage game between United States and Latvia at Arena Riga on May 27, 2021 in Riga, Latvia. (Photo by EyesWideOpen/Getty Images)

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Russia and Belarus are banned from international ice hockey tournaments until further notice, potentially ruling them out of world championships this spring and summer.

The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) became at least the third international sports federation under the Olympic umbrella to announce exclusion plans for Russia and/or Belarus since the International Olympic Committee Executive Board recommended it on Monday morning. The IIHF joined FIFA and World Curling, which announced plans to ban Russia.

“The IIHF is not a political entity and cannot influence the decisions being taken over the war in Ukraine,” IIHF President Luc Tardif said in a press release. “We nevertheless have a duty of care to all of our members and participants and must therefore do all we can to ensure that we are able to operate our events in a safe environment for all teams taking part in the IIHF World Championship program.”

The IIHF said that, under the current conditions, its decision means Russia and Belarus will not participate in the men’s world championship in May in Finland and Russia will not participate in the women’s world championship in August and September in Denmark. Belarus did not qualify for women’s worlds.

Russia, competing as the Russian Olympic Committee without its flag and anthem due to the nation’s doping sanctions, and Belarus were two of the 16 teams that qualified for men’s worlds.

Though active NHL players did not play in the last two Olympics, All-Stars including Russians Alexander Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin and Vladimir Tarasenko have taken part in recent world championships in years when their NHL seasons ended early. Worlds usually take place during the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The IIHF also stripped Russia as host of the 2023 World Junior Men’s Championship that begins in December.

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