Report - Belarus and Russia may return to IIHF competitions later this year

Published March 14, 2023 at 11:15
It's been just over a year since the International Ice Hockey Federation banned Belarus and Russia due to the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. But according to Russian media outlet MatchTV, the sport's governing body may be allowing the two nations to return to play later this year.

Note: the following quote is translated from Russian by DeepL.

"The idea of the IIHF is to allow the Russian national team to the World Junior Championship, which begins December 26, 2023 in Gothenburg, Sweden. But in order to do that, the IIHF congress should make such a decision in May. And the whole question is how it will be done. Most IIHF members are in favor of bringing Russia back to the world championships already out of business considerations."

The source also told MatchTV that some surprising names are in favour of having Belarus and Russia return to IIHF competitions, those nations being Canada and the United States.


Even Canada and the United States are in favor. Against is a cell from the Czech Republic, Finland, Sweden and the Baltic states. The problem is that they make up half of the representation on the Board of the International Ice Hockey Federation. But if the decision on Russia in May 2023 is made by a vote of all the members at the IIHF congress, it is very likely that Russia will return to international tournaments."

Part of the reason why the International Ice Hockey Federation is willing to allow the return of the two nations, more so Russia in this case, is due to financial reasons. MatchTV's source says that the IIHF is losing money by not having Russia playing in tournaments such as the World Juniors and World Championship.

The IIHF's council is set to meet in May to make a decision the potential return of Belarus and Russia. If allowed to return, it will be interesting to see how the IIHF restructures the tournaments to allocate the two nations, before returning to a normal pre-2020 tournament structure, likely in 2024.