At the time being, the International Biathlon Union (IBU) cannot confirm that events in the frame of the 2022 World Cup will be held in Belarus, the union says.
On February 12, the IBU Executive Board (EB) met in Bled (Slovenia) during the IBU Biathlon World Championships to discuss a number of key issues, including upcoming competition calendars.
“Due to the current situation in Belarus, the IBU Executive Board has decided to designate the status of the World Cup in Minsk-Raubichy in March 2022 as pending. The IBU EB will make a decision on whether to confirm or relocate the event at the latest by September 2021 based on the situation in Belarus and its outlook at that time,” the statement reads.
It should be recalled that Alyaksandr Lukashenka who has a soft spot for hockey and biathlon is known for his favouring Belarusian biathletes, e.g. Daria Domracheva. Lukashenka practices biathlon himself; in summer, he goes roller-skiing on asphalted paths in the Belavezha Forest.
Over the past six months, it is not the first time that a high profile sports event has been relocated from Minsk. In October 2020, the International Chess Federation (FIDE) reopened the bid for the 2022 Chess Olympiad; earlier, the event had been scheduled to be held in Minsk.
In December, the International Olympic Committee announced introducing certain restrictions amid the post-election protests in Belarus, e.g.excluding the currently elected members of the Executive Board of the National Olympic Committee of Belarus from all IOC events and activities, which refers to Alyaksandr Lukashenka (NOC President) and his eldest son Viktar Lukashenka, a legal representative of the NOC.
On January 18, the International Ice Hockey Federation announced its decision to move the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship from the Belarusian capital city, stressing that such step was ‘unavoidable’ due ‘to safety and security issues’. The championship was expected to take place in Minsk and Riga which had won the right to host the corresponding event in the year of 2021. However, due to the rigged elections and the brutal crackdown on peaceful protesters, a large international movement to strip Belarus of this right gained pace. A number of companies, including Nivea and Škoda, refused to participate in financing the World Cup if it took place in Belarus.
In addition, the Union Internationale de Pentathlon Moderne (UIPM) voted in favour of depriving Belarus of the opportunity to host the UIPM Pentathlon and Laser Run World Championships due to ‘instability’ in the country.