IIHF to move world championship from Minsk due to political unrest
RvS.Media/Monika Majer / Getty Images Sport / Getty

The 2021 men's world championship will no longer be played in Minsk, the IIHF announced Monday.

The tournament - which the IIHF awarded to Minsk and the Latvian capital of Riga in 2017 - is being relocated due to political unrest in Belarus and the ongoing pandemic. Protests against Belarus' government and its authoritarian president, Alexander Lukashenko, have been ongoing since he was re-elected last year.

"It is a very regrettable thing to have to remove the Minsk/Riga co-hosting bid," IIHF president Rene Fasel said in a statement. "During this process, we had tried to promote that the world championship could be used as a tool for reconciliation to help calm the socio-political issues happening in Belarus and find a positive way forward.

"And while the council feels that the world championship should not be used for political promotion by any side, it has acknowledged that hosting this event in Minsk would not be appropriate when there are bigger issues to deal with and the safety and security of teams, spectators, and officials to prioritize."

Last week, Skoda, a car manufacturer and longtime tournament sponsor, threatened to pull out if Belarus remained the co-host.

The IIHF will now consider hosting the event solely in Riga, although Fasel previously said that option isn't on the table.

Last year's tournament was canceled due to COVID-19.

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IIHF to move world championship from Minsk due to political unrest
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