Russia and Belarus are banned from future IIHF competitions, which include the moving of the 2023 World Juniors that were set to take place in St. Petersburg due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
In the leading days to today’s announcement, there was pressure from fans and the media for the IIHF to relocate the World Juniors, Men’s Championship, among other events that are linked to Russia.
This May, Austria and France will replace Russia and Belarus at the men’s World Championships. With lots of European sports disassociating themselves from anything that has to do with Russia, such as the Champions League being moved, as well as F1 is canceling the Russian GP that was set to take place in Sochi. As well, Jokerit Helsinki & Dinamo Riga have both left the KHL.
With Austria and France set to take the place of Russia and Belarus at the men’s World Championship, this serves as a perfect opportunity for the countries to develop the men’s hockey program, which will be great. We are seeing growth with the German men’s hockey program with players like Leon Draisaitl, Tim Stutzle, and Mortiz Seider. This is a result of how they were given a chance at the World Juniors.
It is unknown how long Russia and Belarus will be out for at this time.
If the IIHF wants to make a statement, Russia and Belarus should not be allowed to compete in international events for a minimum of 10 years. There are many human rights issues concerning Russia, and doping still remains a hot topic, as we saw with the 15-year old figure skater in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.