Russia and Belarus will be excluded from the World Ice Hockey Championship for an additional year until the 2024-25 season due to security risks during the military invasion of Ukraine, the sport's governing body announced on Monday.
The International Ice Hockey Federation said: “It is not yet safe to allow teams from Russia and Belarus to return to IIHF competition.”
The updated ban, which previously cited “safety concerns for athletes, competition staff and fans” as the reason, extends the exclusion period for each country by more than three years.
“This decision also applies to the Belarusian team with respect to the final Olympic qualifiers scheduled for August,” the IIHF announced.
The next Winter Olympics are scheduled to begin in northern Italy on February 6, 2026, with the hockey competition to be held in Milan and the first time NHL players will be participating since the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia.
The IIHF has set a deadline for next May for its board to decide whether Russia and Belarus will be fit for the Olympics in time.
At NHL All-Star Weekend in Toronto this month, Russian Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning was asked if his country would participate in the Olympics.
“I want to go. I think everyone wants to go. It definitely means a lot to the country,” Kucherov said. “Hopefully we can go to the Olympics. Team Russia will go to the Olympics. And it's not going to be the same without Team Russia, so it's going to be a real best versus best.” ”
The Russian team won the gold medal at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics and the silver medal at the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
Ice hockey is a favorite sport played by both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.
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