Jerzy Buzek, a Polish MEP and former president of the European Parliament, has called the head of the Polish Ice Hockey Union (PIHU) to raise the question of moving the 2014 world championship from Belarus at a congress of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) to be held in Helsinki on May 17, 2012.
In his letter to PIHU President Zdzislaw Ingielewicz, Mr. Buzek says that the tournament may not be held in Belarus because of human rights abuse in the country. While voicing his opposition to mixing politics and sports, Mr. Buzek stresses that Aliaksandr Lukashenka has been using hockey to legitimize his dictatorial methods of rule, news agency Belapan reports.
Writing the letter is Buzek’s reaction on the fact that the PIHU has not taken a definite stand on the Belarusian issue. The Polish Ministries of Sports and Foreign Affairs have not given them any recommendations as well.
The IIHF has been urged by many prominent politicians and organizations to strip Belarus of the right to host the event in protest against widespread human rights abuse and the persecution of Mr. Lukashenka’s political opponents.
As it was reported before, in its resolution adopted on March 29, 2012 the European Parliament called on «the National Ice Hockey Federations of the EU Member States and all other democratic countries to urge the IIHF, including at its next Congress in May in Helsinki, Finland, to re-discuss its earlier decision envisaging the possibility of relocating the 2014 World Ice Hockey Championship from Belarus to another host country until all political prisoners, recognised by international human rights organisations as ‘prisoners of conscious’, are released».
In response to numerous appeals to remove the Championship from Minsk by reason of violations of human rights, René Fasel president of the International Ice Hockey Federation,reiterated nothing would change and Belarus would host the sports event in 2014. «We stand back from political discussions,» he stated in January, 2012.