July 24th, 2024

IIHF says Israel can play in an upcoming tournament after initially barring it for security concerns

By The Associated Press on January 17, 2024.

FILE - Players of the Czech Republic and the United States challenge for the puck during the quarterfinal match at the ice hockey world championship in Tampere, Finland, Thursday, May 25, 2023. The International Ice Hockey Federation has barred Israel from competing in its world championship events citing security concerns. The IIHF says its ruling council's decision was based on concern for “the safety and well-being of all participants,” including Israelis. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin, File)

ZURICH (AP) – The International Ice Hockey Federation said Wednesday that Israel will be able to play in an upcoming tournament after previously barring its national team from the event over security concerns.

The sport’s world governing body announced Israel can take part in the Division III under-20 world championship later this month in Bulgaria. The IIHF says it has confirmed with authorities the necessary security measures will be in place to address the risks of Israel participating.

“We are grateful to the Bulgarian authorities, the Ministry of Youth and Sport, Ministry of Interior, the local police and all our stakeholders for their support and assistance in this matter,” the IIHF said in a statement.

The IIHF added that it will take ensuring tournaments – including the 2024 men’s and women’s world championships – on a case-by-case basis, again citing safety and security. Further IIHF council meetings are planned to discuss the issue in February and March before decisions are made.

“A one-week tournament with the participation of the Israeli national team without any guarantee about safety and security of all people involved is irresponsible,” the IIHF said.

None of the IIHF’s recent statements on Israel make any mention of the ongoing Israel-Hamas war in Gaza.

The NHL, which works closely with the IIHF in planning many international events, said last weekend it had “significant concerns” over the Israeli ban and expressed those, while trying to understand the rationale behind the decision.

“As we understand it, the decision is intended to be temporary in nature and rests solely on the IIHF’s overriding concern for the safety and security of all of its stakeholders, including both the Israeli national team and other participating teams,” the league said in a statement posted to social media. “Importantly, we also have been assured that the decision is not intended to be a sanction against the Israeli Federation and will not affect the Israeli Federation’s status as a full member in good standing with the IIHF.

“We urge the IIHF to take whatever steps necessary to address its concerns as expeditiously as possible so that Israeli national teams are not unfairly excluded from future events for which they are eligible and have qualified.”

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AP hockey: https://apnews.com/hub/hockey

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