The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) has announced that Tampere in Finland and Riga in Latvia will replace Russia to co-host its 2023 World Championships.
The event was initially due to be staged in the Russian city of Saint Petersburg between May 5 and 21 next year, but the country was stripped of hosting duties last month (April) following its invasion of Ukraine. The IIHF also banned all Russian and Belarusian teams from tournaments.
The governing body approved a joint bid by Finland and Latvia at its annual congress on Friday (May 27), with the tournament now set to take place in Tampere and Riga from 12 to 28 May next year.
Hungary and Slovenia had also presented a joint bid but Hungary withdrew the bid on May 23 due to a lack of government guarantees.
The 2022 World Championships, which concluded yesterday (May 29), were also held in Tampere along with the Finnish capital Helsinki.
Tampere's newly-opened Nokia Arena will serve as the main venue for the 2023 World Championship as it did for this year’s tournament and will host one preliminary-round group, two quarter-finals, and all semi-final and medal games.
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A total of almost 220,000 fans attended the 30 games in Tampere for the annual tournament this year.
Riga staged the 2021 World Championships in its entirety but did so without fans due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Arena Riga, with a capacity of up to 9,550 spectators, will serve as the Latvian venue same as it did in 2006 and 2021 and will host one preliminary-round group and two quarter-final games.
Meanwhile, the IIHF council selected Switzerland as the host nation for the World Championships in 2026, with the tournament to take place in Zurich and Fribourg from 15 to 31 May that year.
Switzerland was originally slated to host the competition in 2020 but the tournament was canceled due to Covid-19 restrictions.
The country was awarded the competition unopposed as the only other applicant, Kazakhstan, had earlier withdrawn its bid.
The Swiss Life Arena in Zurich, which will open later this year, will serve as the main venue for the event. The BCF Arena will serve as the venue in Fribourg.
Prague and Ostrava in the Czech Republic had already been awarded the 2024 edition, with the 2025 championship set to be held in the Swedish capital Stockholm and Herning in Denmark.
Addressing the federation’s measures against Russia and Belarus, IIHF president Luc Tardif said: "Every decision we made was for the safety of the competition, for the safety of the players, staff, fans, and officials, including Russia and Belarus.
"The decisions were guided by this purpose. We are on the same line as the recommendations of the IOC and other big federations like FIFA and UEFA."
Elsewhere, the 2023 IIHF Women's World Championship was allocated to Canada, with the US hosting the tournament the following year.
Herning and Frederikshavn in Denmark are due to host the women's event from August 25 to September 4 this year.
At the IIHF Congress, the governing body also revealed its new 2022-2026 strategic plan.
Named ‘ICE26’, the plan focuses on the main goals to innovate, collaborate and expand with 12 key initiatives presented by the IIHF council.
In terms of innovation, the federation is seeking to implement a comprehensive digital transformation program.
In the collaboration segment, the IIHF wants to establish an annual global hockey forum “to bring key stakeholders together for meaningful discussions”.
Expansion is also another goal for the federation, as well as a new women’s hockey concept including new brand and competition structures to be discussed to bring more opportunities to the women’s game.
The IIHF additionally wants to establish three-on-three ice hockey as a new discipline and brand after it was played at the 2020 Youth Olympic Winter Games.