Russia to host 2016 Hockey Worlds
The Russian national team stunned long-time rival Canada with a 2-1 victory at the World Championships in Slovakia on Thursday. And there was more good news for the country’s hockey the next day as Russia triumphed in the race for the 2016 Worlds, partially without a fight. The voting was to take place at the International Ice Hockey Federation Congress in Bratislava, but Ukraine and Denmark, who also hoped to snatch the event, withdrew their applications at the final moment. Russia went all out to perfect its own bid. The Russian delegation at the congress included Russian Hockey Federation President Vladislav Tretyak, Deputy Mayor of Moscow, Alexander Gorbenko, and Deputy Minister of Sport, Tourism and Youth Policy of the Russian Federation, Yury Nagornykh. Vladimir Putin also arrived at the congress for the announcement of the results of the bidding campaign. Putin addressed the congress in English afterwards, saying Russia truly deserved to host the tournament because of its “great desire to stage a great event and promote the ideas of sportsmanship, athleticism and fair play”. “In fact, today we need a new starting point to revive the spirit of hockey,” he added. The prime minister also confessed to having some “firsthand experience of playing this truly great game” of hockey. “I took time too to learn to skate and I must admit it was not easy… not even for a person who has been practicing sports for decades,” he stressed. While Russia got the championships, Putin also received a special gift from the President of the International Ice Hockey Federation, Rene Fasel – a hockey sweater with the Russian Prime Minister’s name on the back.Putin is expected to be in the stands for Russia’s semifinal game against Finland on Friday night. The prime minister's personal involvement also played a significant role in the success of his country’s bids to host the 2014 Winter Olympic Games and the 2018 FIFA World Cup.Meanwhile, President of the Kontinental Hockey League, Aleksandr Medvedev, told RT that Russia’s win in the bid indicates the appreciation of the country’s role in the world. ”We couldn’t take it for granted because we had a very strong competition. Both Denmark and Ukraine are already on the run to become first class hockey nations. But they decided to withdraw as they realized that our arguments are stronger,” he said.Russia is planning to hold the World Championship games at Moscow’s Megasport Arena and Ice Palace in St Petersburg. The estimated budget for the event is around US$14 million. The World Championships in 2016 will kick off on April 29, with the final scheduled for May 15.It is going to be the third Hockey World Championships in Russia since the start of the new millennium as the country hosted the annual event in 2000 and 2007.