VILNIUS - The Lithuanian government has offered Latvia to jointly organize the 2021 Hockey World Championship now that the International Hockey Federation (IIHF) has decided that no championship games will be played in Belarus.
According to Lithuanian broadcaster LRT, Lithuanian government members discussed the matter already on Monday.
Several Lithuanian companies have sent letters to the government, asking it to consider co-hosting the championship together with Latvia.
According to these companies, this would give Lithuania the opportunity to raise its profile at the international arena, as well as cover part of the losses caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Avia Solutions Group Arena's head Andrius Ziauberis said that, technically, Lithuania could host the entire championship alone.
On the other hand, the Latvian Hockey Federation's President Aigars Kalvitis told LETA on Wednesday that Lithuania's willingness to co-host the 2021 championship was news to him. He believes that the Lithuanians may have tried to make a political statement by expressing readiness to co-host the championship.
"I don't know anything about it. We have not held any talks with the Lithuanians," said Kalvitis. "How the championship will be organized is up to the IIHF to decide," emphasized Kalvitis. "I believe that this is just a pure speculation. The IIHF will make the final decision, it is already considering several options," he said.
The Lithuanian Education, Science and Sports Ministry has told Delfi.lt portal that Vilnius and Kaunas could host part of the championship matches.
As reported, on Monday, the IIHF Council decided to move the 2021 Hockey World Championship from Minsk, Belarus.
The 2021 championship had to be organized by Minsk and Riga, but the Latvian government indicated that it does not want to co-host the tournament with Belarus, as the regime of authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko has been conducting a violent crackdown on peaceful protesters in the country.
Now, the IIHF Council must consider the status of Latvia as a co-host, and will also evaluate the possibility of moving to a single-venue format to facilitate COVID-19 safety regulations and team travel.
The 2021 Ice Hockey World Championships is scheduled to take place between May 21 and June 6.