Latvian federation bans hockey players for participating in Games of the Future

Latvian federation bans hockey players for participating in Games of the Future

Latvia’s ban on hockey players who took part in the Games of the Future has nothing to do with sport, a Russian MP and former Olympian says

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The Latvian Ice Hockey Federation (LHF) has imposed a ban on players who are taking part in the Games of the Future tournament, which is being held in the Russian city of Kazan.

The move has been criticized by Russian MP and former Winter Olympic champion, Svetlana Zhurova, who said the EU country’s decision to suspend the licenses of players was purely political.

Pursuant to information that some Latvian hockey players are participating in the Games of the Future in Russia, LHF has suspended the licenses of these hockey players,” the federation said in a statement on Thursday.

More than 2,000 athletes from around the world are taking part in 21 disciplines at the tournament, which opened in Kazan on Wednesday.

Zhurova, who won a gold medal for speed skating at the Winter Olympics in 2006, told RT that the decision of the Latvian federation had nothing to do with sport.

Unfortunately, this is a clear-cut political stance, and the question is ‘What has sports got to do with it?’ Let’s also remember the recent law passed in Latvia to ban their own athletes from competing with ours… Apparently, this is what freedom and democracy look like by Latvian standards,” she said.

The State Duma deputy said the Latvian players who have traveled to Kazan to take part in the tournament should be praised for their courage.

“If you think back to the 1980 Olympics, despite the ban in place at the time, many athletes came anyway, and one of them was Sebastian Coe, who is now the head of World Athletics,” Zhurova added.

Did something go wrong in his life after that? Did he get banned by anyone?

She was referring to the Summer Olympics in Moscow, which was boycotted by the US and 65 other countries. Around 80 countries still sent their athletes to compete in the Soviet capital.

Another Russian sports star, retired ice hockey player Alexander Kozhevnikov, suggested that the Latvian athletes should stay in Russia after the competition, which continues until March 3.

“How can one even comment on the actions of this hostile state? Of course, Latvian athletes should be praised for coming to the Games of the Future, but there will definitely be consequences for them. I think that they should stay in our country,” the two-time Olympic hockey champion told RT.

The Games of the Future is the first-ever international ‘phygital’ (physical and digital) event, which combines conventional and electronic sports.