A visa-free entry for the fans of the Ice Hockey World Championship which the capital of Belarus is to host in 2014 will be valid from April,25 to May, 30, state-owned news agency BelTA quotes Leanid Maltseu, Chairman of the State Border Committee.
According to the top official, people coming to Belarus will need only passports and tickets, printed or digital, when crossing the border.
It is to be recalled that in May, 2013 the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) approved all the venues of hockey matches in 2014. Having neglected numerous protests of human rights activists and some European politicians the IIHF refused point black to move the 2014 Ice Hockey World Championship from Belarus to a different country.
Human rights groups repeatedly expressed disappointment at the refusal. According to their statement, the championship will give Aliaksandr Lukashenka ‘a great opportunity to shed a positive light on himself and his regime’.
In his turn, René Fasel, president of the International Ice Hockey Federation, thrown cold water on German MPs’ appeal to relocate the 2014 Ice Hockey World Championship from Belarus saying that ‘the discrimination of IIHF members, hockey clubs and people on political, racial or religious grounds is prohibited’.
In September, 2013 the European Parliament adopted a resolution urging the Ice Hockey Federation to reconsider holding the World Cup in Belarus next year, citing torture of political prisoners. ‘We should not be allowing Europe’s last tyrant to host an international sporting event that will lend [him] legitimacy,’ a Swedish MEP said.
Were the mega sports event removed to another city, President Lukashenka, an avid ice hockey fan and amateur player himself, would be deeply disappointed.