SZLH Confirms Bratislava Could Co-host Ice Hockey Championship

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(Stock photo by TASR/AP)

Bratislava, January 22 (TASR) – Bratislava could host matches of one of the two groups of this year’s ice hockey world championship, as the Slovak Ice Hockey Federation (SZLH) confirmed on Friday that it’s initiated talks with the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) on coorganising the tournament with Latvia following the IIHF’s decision to withdraw the right to host the tournament from Belarus, which was supposed to co-host the championship along with Latvia.

While Slovakia is a potential candidate along with Denmark, the third option is that the entire tournament, including the group stage, will be played out solely in Latvia.

SZLH, managed by former Slovak ice hockey legend Miroslav Satan, established initial contact on Tuesday. “We agreed that we would assemble the necessary documentation and budget by Friday. We stress that nothing has been decided yet. The decision will be up to the IIHF Council,” Satan told hockeyslovakia.sk.

“We want to show the hockey world that we can and want to help in a crisis situation. We’ll do our utmost to convince the IIHF Council that Slovakia is the right place to host the championship. We’ve already held several rounds of talks on this with Government representatives, who expressed their support,” said Satan. The IIHF could make the final decision as early as next week, as the council is supposed to hold a session on January 26 and 27.

IIHF withdrew the rights to organise the tournament from Minsk on Monday, citing concerns over the safety of national teams given the current political and epidemic situation in Belarus.

The tournament is scheduled to start on May 21, with the final slated for June 6. The previous world hockey championship was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, and IIHF has stated that it doesn’t want to cancel two consecutive tournaments.