Finland, Latvia to land 2023 hockey worlds taken from Russia

Finland's Toni Rajala, center, celebrates with teammates Sami Vatanen, left, and Joel Armia after scoring his side's third goal during the group B Hockey World Championship match B match between Austria and Finland, in Tampere, Finland, saturday, May 21, 2022. (Jussi Nukari/Lehtikuva via AP)

HELSINKI — Finland is expected to host the men’s hockey world championships two years in a row after teaming up with Latvia in a bid to stage the 2023 tournament that was stripped from Russia because of the war in Ukraine.

The Finnish city of Tampere, one of the host cities of this year’s competition, is bidding with the Latvian capital city of Riga, which was the host in 2021.

The International Ice Hockey Federation said Tuesday that the Finland-Latvia bid was unopposed after a rival application by Hungary and Slovenia was withdrawn. The IIHF said that was because the Hungarian hosts of the bid “did not receive the governmental guarantees.”

An IIHF congress is scheduled to confirm Finland and Latvia as hosts on Friday.

Russia was scheduled to stage the 2023 tournament in President Vladimir Putin’s home city of St. Petersburg but the IIHF removed it as host on April 26, two months after the invasion of Ukraine began. The IIHF cited safety and concerns about “the safe freedom of movement of players and officials to, from, and within Russia.”

Russia and its ally Belarus have also been excluded from this year’s tournament in Finland, and Russia has lost hosting rights for next year’s world junior championship.

The IIHF also said Tuesday that Switzerland was unopposed in bidding to host the 2026 men’s world championship after Kazakhstan withdrew. Switzerland will be hosting for the first time since 2009 and was due to host in 2020 before the tournament was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

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