Israel blocked from World Ice Hockey championship

In Sports
March 29, 2024



PARIS:

The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) on Thursday barred Israel from its world championships to ensure the “safety and well-being” of all participants, including Israelis.

“The IIHF Council took this decision after careful consideration and based on a risk assessment, discussions with the participating countries, and discussions with the hosts,” the federation said in a statement.

Israel will remain excluded “for the time being”, the IIHF said.

The Israeli men’s team were scheduled to play a Division II-A world championship tournament in Serbia in April against teams including Australia and the United Arab Emirates.

Later Thursday, the Israeli Ice Hockey Association said it will protest the IIHF decision with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

“The discriminative decision to exclude Israel is an unusual and very serious step that does not meet any international sporting standard and stands in complete contradiction to Olympic values,” said a statement from the Israeli federation released by the country’s embassy in Paris.

Yael Arad, the chairman of Olympic Committee of Israel, described the ban as a “precedent-setting and dangerous decision”.

He said it reflected “a strong undercurrent of discrimination…disguised under the pretext of athlete safety.”

The international federation’s move comes with Israel locked in a war in the Gaza Strip.

The war erupted when Hamas militants stormed across the Gaza border into Israel in an unprecedented attack on October 7 which left some 1,140 people dead, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.

Israel has vowed to eradicate Hamas and has kept up a relentless bombing of Gaza, which the Hamas-run health ministry says has killed at least 23,469 people, mostly civilians.

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