Updated at 11:30,08-12-2016

Ice Hockey World Championship 2014 will take place in Minsk

The president of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) on Friday reiterated his opposition to moving the 2014 world championship from Belarus, BelaPAN informs.

Speaking at an IIHF congress in Helsinki, Rene Fasel stressed that "sport cannot and should not be a political tool." "I don’t think there is anyone here who is for violation of democratic and human rights," he said. "Our organization is, by definition, democratic with all members being able to stand up and say what they think and we will always stay that way."

Mr. Fasel said that "it is not the task of sports organizations and athletes to act as politicians and try to do their job." "We should not be used as puppets for politicians or activists," he added.

The IIHF president noted that sport can often improve relations between countries. "I believe that if we go to Belarus we will contribute to make things better, to make things more open. By not going there, I believe that we would be punishing the wrong people, the Belarusian fans, other fans, and the athletes," Mr. Fasel warned.

"Boycotts of sport events are against the fundamental idea of sports and it devalues the idea of sport," he stressed.

The IIHF has been urged by many prominent politicians and organizations to strip Belarus of the right to host the event in protest against widespread human rights abuse and the persecution of Alyaksandr Lukashenka's political opponents.