René Fasel: Sport should not be a political tool

IIHF President René Fasel opened the 2012 IIHF Annual Congress in Helsinki on Friday morning and addressed the issue about the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship that the Congress had allocated to Belarus.

“It is not the task of sports organizations and athletes to act as politicians and try to do their job. We should not be used as puppets for politicians or activists. Sport cannot and should not be a political tool,” René Fasel stated in Helsinki reiterating his position on relocating the 2014 Championship from Minsk.

“While politics very often is confrontational and divisive, sports should stand for reconciliation and opening of new frontiers. Sport has in fact a history of accomplishing things where politics failed. Recall that in the ‘70s it was a series of ping-pong matches that defrosted the relationships between the USA and China … And in our sport, we would be deprived of maybe the greatest series ever played – the 1972 Summit Series between Canada and the Soviet Union – if those two countries would be guided by their ideological differences, rather than by the desire to compete on ice to see who the best is in hockey,” IIHF President said.

According to the Congress program, the report by the Belarusian delegation on the preparation for the championship is scheduled on May 18, 2012.

The issue on the Championship relocation from Minsk is not included in the agenda, Yauhen Vorsin, Head of the Belarusian Hockey Federation, said. “Certainly, no assurance can be given that there will be no queer person making remarks on the subject, but nothing will be discussed: if it happens this person will be asked to sit down,” Mr. Vorsin said.

Efforts to move the World Championship to another country arose after the brutal attacks on peaceful demonstrators and opposition leaders in 2010, when the regime of Aliaksandr Lukashenka affirmed its non-democratic nature.

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». MEPs Marek Migalski and Peter Stastny, professional ice hockey player and member of the Ice hockey Hall of Fame, launched Internet campaigns collecting signatures for moving the 2014 Championship from Belarus. This week 28 American congressmen have called René Fasel for re-allocating the sports event venue.


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