Israel barred from ice hockey championships
The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) has confirmed that Israeli teams will not be permitted to compete in this year’s world championships because of “safety and security” concerns.
In a Wednesday statement, the sport’s international governing body said it was taking the step “for the time being” based upon a risk assessment ahead of the event, which is due to occur later this year. It added that the federation has a “duty of care” to prioritize the well-being of all teams, including that of Israel. The IIHF made no mention of the Israel-Hamas war in its comments.
In a follow-up statement issued on Friday, the IIHF clarified its decision, saying it was “not a sanction against the Israeli Federation and does not affect the Israeli Federation’s status as a full member in good standing with the IIHF.”
The governing body also said that it hopes to welcome Israeli teams back to international competition “as soon as possible,” but that “safety and security” concerns had necessitated the action. The IIHF did not elaborate on any specific security issues discovered in its risk assessment.
The IIHF statement did not say if any other teams had opposed Israel’s possible presence at the world championships but said the decision was made “after discussions with the participating countries.”
In response, the Israeli Ice Hockey Association said it will appeal the IIHF ruling to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). A statement released by Israel’s embassy in France said that the “discriminative” decision is a “serious step that does not meet any international sporting standard and stands in complete contradiction to Olympic values.”
The chairman of the Olympic Committee of Israel, Yael Arad, added that Israel’s ban is a “precedent-setting and dangerous decision.”
Israel’s men’s team, ranked 33 in the world, was due to compete in Group A of the second division in the two-tier tournament against Australia and the United Arab Emirates in Serbia in April. Its women’s team was also scheduled to play in Estonia in March against Bosnia-Herzegovina and Indonesia.
The IIHF also suspended national and club teams from Russia and Belarus after the outbreak of conflict in Ukraine. It extended the ban in March 2023 to include the 2023-24 season, saying that “it is not yet safe to reincorporate” teams from both countries.