Belarus, Latvia to co-host 2021 hockey worlds, Finland in 2022

Latvia's goaltender Gustavs Grigals makes a save. (Frank Gunn/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

COLOGNE, Germany — Belarus and Latvia will co-host the 2021 world hockey championship, while Finland will stage the 2022 event.

The International Ice Hockey Federation says the Belarus-Latvia bid won "by a very tight margin" against Finland. Finland then said it was ready to host a year later and was unanimously approved.

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The last time Belarus held the tournament, as sole host in 2014, it sparked protests from some European politicians and human rights activists concerned about the authoritarian rule of President Alexander Lukashenko.

An avid hockey player, Lukashenko has been in power since 1994 and has often suppressed political opponents.

The 2021 tournament will be held in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, and the Latvian capital Riga. In 2022, the Finnish cities of Helsinki and Tampere will host games.