The 2021 men’s ice hockey world championship will be held in Latvia’s capital Riga, the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) said on Tuesday.

The announcement comes after Belarus was stripped of the right to co-host the tournament. The IIHF said in a statement that it made this decision “due to safety and security issues that are beyond the IIHF’s control”.

Earlier, the opposition in Belarus called for the country to be stripped of the event because of President Alexander Lukashenko’s crackdown on protesters opposing his re-election. Volkswagen’s Skoda Auto and Liqui Moly had also threatened to pull out as tournament sponsors if it was held in Belarus.

Denmark and Slovakia were willing to co-host the event but the IIHF decided it was best to keep all teams in Riga: “With continued uncertainty surrounding international travel restrictions, the Council believes that keeping all teams in Riga throughout the tournament and avoiding travel between two host countries is the safest and most cost-effective way to operate the event”, the IIHF said.

The May 21-June 6 tournament will be held at two venues in Riga — the Arena Riga and the Olympic Sports Centre. All teams are set to be housed in one hotel.


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