IIHF Bans Two National Teams Until 2024-25 Season

The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) has decided to continue barring Russian and Belarusian national and club teams from IIHF-sanctioned competitions for the 2024-25 season, affecting their participation in various championships including the Men’s World Championships, the 2025 World Juniors, and the final qualification round for the 2026 Winter Olympics, though Russia’s ban does not extend to the 2026 Olympics itself, pending a future review of their status in May 2025.

The International Ice Hockey Federation dropped a bombshell on Monday. They’ve decided that Russian and Belarusian national and club teams are out of the game for the 2024-25 championship season. So, what’s the big deal? Well, these teams won’t be hitting the ice at the Men’s World Championships this spring. And it doesn’t stop there. They’re also missing out on the 2025 World Juniors. For Belarus, the sting is sharper. They’re bowing out of the final qualification round for the 2026 Winter Olympics in Italy.

But, hold up. This doesn’t mean Russia’s got a red card for the 2026 Olympics. Nope. That event marks the grand return of NHL players after a 12-year hiatus. The IIHF Council’s got safety on their minds, citing it as the reason behind their decision. They’re planning to revisit this whole situation in May 2025.

Now, let’s talk World Juniors in Ottawa. It’s the fourth time in a row that Russia and Belarus are sitting this one out. The reason? Russia’s move on Ukraine and the safety concerns that followed. The last time Russia showed up, it was a ghost town – the 2021 tournament with zero spectators, thanks to Covid-19. Remember Yaroslav Askarov? The Predators prospect who couldn’t clinch the bronze for Russia?

As for Belarus, they were climbing the ladder, winning promotion at the Division 1A tournament in 2022. They were all set for a comeback at the 2023 World Juniors. But, the IIHF had other plans, showing them the door. The last glimpse we got of Belarus in top-division action was back in 2018. That squad, boasting Flames forward Yegor Sharangovich, couldn’t dodge relegation.

Belarus is out of the 2026 Olympics game, no question. Missing the qualification tournament seals their fate. Russia, on the other hand, might just slide into the tournament, thanks to their world ranking. That’s if the IIHF decides to lift the sanctions. Remember, Russian teams have been on the podium, snagging gold and silver at the last two Olympics, all without NHL stars.

Alex Thompson
Alex Thompson
Alex Thompson is a Senior Writer for HockeyMonitor. With a background in Sports Media, Alex joined the team in 2022. He focuses on providing the latest hockey news, game scores, and fresh NHL trade rumors.

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