The hockey decision of the International Hockey Federation (IIHF) on the 2021 World Hockey Championships for men is not home understandable, but also in a short time Latvia must prove its ability to accomplish the task entrusted to it, says Sandis Riekstins (JKP), Chairman of the Saeima Sports Subcommittee.
A politician told LETA why the IIHF had “stretched the rubber band and played some behind-the-scenes games” for so long, deciding to return the right to host the World Cup to Latvia. Due to such delays, Latvia will have to face many challenges in a short time, but the work must be done with honor, the deputy pointed out. Riekstins emphasized that from the moment when Latvia started to express the position that it would not organize a PC with Belarus, it had to be ready for the IIHF’s decision to entrust the organization of the entire PC to Riga.
Taking into account the spending ceiling set by the government for the organization of the World Championships, Riekstins assumed that the state would cope with the organization of the championship and could even recoup the funds invested in the competition. He also pointed out that the decision to give Riga the right to host the entire PC probably shows that the IIHF agreed with the Latvian government’s vision of spending, not wanting to incur unnecessary expenses. “A delegation of more than 1,000 people will arrive in Riga, they will live in a hotel, be fed, transported, and this will be able to help local entrepreneurs, as well as avoid terrible losses,” said Riekstins.
The politician said that it is currently difficult to predict the situation of Covid-19, approaching the championship, but at the moment it is difficult to imagine the possibility of gathering full fan stands, so it is necessary to prepare for the championship without audience presence. In his view, it would be wrong to create special conditions so that a person can still watch the competition in person, including, for example, thinking about the possibility of only the local audience going to watch the games. “Even if I try to give me a special ticket, I would not take it because it is not fair,” the deputy emphasized. In Riekstins’ opinion, Latvia, by organizing the entire World War II alone, must show the world that it can be trusted by showing Latvia as a country that is able to successfully perform the tasks entrusted to it.
As reported, Latvia will host the entire 2021 World Cup in hockey, the IIHF decided on Tuesday. The IIHF Council mentioned the current problems with Covid-19, as well as various technical reasons, in favor of the decision to host the tournament in one place. With the uncertainty surrounding international travel restrictions, “the Council considers that the presence of all teams in Riga throughout the tournament and the avoidance of travel between the two host countries is the safest and most cost-effective way to organize an event”
It is reported that the main venue of the World Championships in Riga will be “Arena Riga”, where Group B games, two quarter-finals, semi-finals and medal games will take place. The second venue will be the Olympic Sports Center, which will be transformed into an ice rink for 6,000 spectators. It will feature Group A and two quarterfinals. The ice hall of the Daugava Stadium will serve as a training arena with two ice fields. The hall is currently under construction and is scheduled for completion by the end of March. All 16 participating teams will be accommodated in one hotel.
It is noted that “Arena Riga” and the Olympic Sports Center are located approximately At a distance of 150 meters from each other, which, if necessary, will allow the IIHF to implement the “bubble” concept. On the other hand, if the situation of Covid-19 in Latvia improved so much that spectators would be allowed to watch the games in person, IIHF together with the Organizing Committee of the competition would be ready to organize ticket sales within three days of the Latvian government’s approval. The 2021 World Championship is scheduled for May 21 to June 6. This year’s World Cup was to be hosted by Minsk and Riga, but on January 18, at the meeting of the IIHF Council, the capital of Belarus was deprived of the rights of the organizers of the championship.