Russia and Belarus banned from Brampton IIHF Women’s World Championship, 2024 global competitions

Published March 23, 2023 at 11:19 am

Canada's Marie-Philip Poulin, top, hangs from the crossbar after crashing into goalie Nicole Hensley, of the United States, during third-period gold-medal final of the IIHF Women's World Championship hockey game in Calgary. Canada won 3-2 in overtime. (Jeff McIntosh, The Canadian Press)

Neither Russia or Belarus will hit the ice in Brampton when the 2023 IIHF Women’s World Championship comes to town next month, and both teams have now also been banned from next year’s tournament due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

Teams from Russia and Belarus were excluded by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) on Wednesday from all its world championships next season citing security concerns for players, competition staff and fans because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Both countries had already been banned from the 2022-23 international season, including this year’s women’s world championships which will begin on April 5 in Brampton.

“It is too soon,” IIHF president Luc Tardif said about letting Russia return to competition. “Too many risks.”

Tardif, speaking after a decision by the ruling council he chairs, said the IIHF must decide in the next year if Russia and Belarus can take part in the 2026 Milan-Cortina d’Ampezzo Winter Games.

Captain Marie-Philip Poulin will lead an experienced Canadian squad when they take on the world at Brampton’s CAA Centre next month.

Canada will open its quest for a third straight gold medal when the 10-country tournament at Brampton’s CAA Centre starts up and will see Canada take on some different opponents early because of the shakeup at last year’s championship.

Canada is in Group A with Czechia, Japan, Switzerland and the United States, while Group B includes Finland, France, Germany, Hungary and Sweden.

All games will be played in Brampton and this year marks the first time since 2000 that the Women’s Worlds will come to the Greater Toronto Area.

The IIHF followed guidance given by the International Olympic Committee within days of Russia starting the war in February last year to remove Russian teams from international competitions and to find new hosts for events the country was to stage.

However, the IOC is now pushing Olympic sports governing bodies to find ways to include Russian and Belarusian athletes as neutrals in qualifying events for the 2024 Paris Games.

Ice hockey is a favorite sport played by both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

The IOC executive board is due to discuss the Russian issue at a meeting next Tuesday in Lausanne, Switzerland.

With files from The Canadian Press

insauga's Editorial Standards and Policies advertising