Israel barred from IIHF events over security concerns

A stack of hockey pucks is set on a bench. (Joseph Weiser/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

ZURICH — The International Ice Hockey Federation has barred Israel from competing in its world championship events citing security concerns.

The IIHF said in a statement issued Wednesday that its ruling council “has decided to restrict the Israeli National Team from participating in IIHF Championships until the safety and well-being of all participants (including Israeli participants) can be assured.”

“The IIHF Council took this decision after careful consideration and based on a risk assessment, discussions with the participating countries and discussions with the hosts.”

The statement did not say if any other country had objected to playing against Israel and made no mention of the ongoing Israel-Hamas war in Gaza. Israel will remain excluded “for the time being,” the IIHF said.

The IIHF has previously used similar language around safety and security to support its decision last year to suspend Russia and Belarus from competition following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The IIHF world championships are structured into a series of tiers and Israel’s national teams typically play in lower-division events with sparse crowds and little media exposure.

The Israeli men’s national team was due to play a Division II-A world championship tournament in Serbia in April against teams including Australia and the United Arab Emirates. The Israel women’s national team was scheduled for a Division III-B world championship event in Estonia in March against opponents including Bosnia-Herzegovina and Indonesia.

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