Latvian federation prohibits hockey players from joining ‘Games of the Future’

(MENAFN) In a surprising move, the Latvian Ice Hockey Federation (LHF) has ignited controversy by imposing a ban on its players participating in the Games of the Future tournament, currently taking place in the Russian city of Kazan. The federation, in a statement released on Thursday, announced the suspension of licenses for players engaging in the international event, which hosts over 2,000 athletes from around the world across 21 disciplines.

The decision has not only raised eyebrows within the sports community but has also drawn criticism from Russian Member of Parliament and former Winter Olympic champion, Svetlana Zhurova. Zhurova, who secured a gold medal for speed skating at the 2006 Winter Olympics, denounced the Latvian federation's action, asserting that the move was driven by political motives rather than sporting considerations.

According to the LHF statement, the ban was implemented based on information regarding the participation of Latvian hockey players in the Kazan tournament. This development comes in the wake of recent legislation in Latvia prohibiting their athletes from competing with Russian counterparts, further fueling speculation about the political nature of the decision.

Svetlana Zhurova, speaking to RT, expressed her disapproval, emphasizing that the move by the Latvian federation seemed to be a clear political stance rather than a sports-related decision.

She questioned the connection between sports and politics, referencing Latvia's recent law restricting its athletes from competing against Russian counterparts. Zhurova commented, "Apparently, this is what freedom and democracy look like by Latvian standards."

Despite the ban, Zhurova commended the Latvian players who chose to travel to Kazan and participate in the Games of the Future. Drawing a parallel to historical instances, she recalled the 1980 Olympics when athletes defied bans to compete, citing Sebastian Coe, who, despite the restrictions at the time, participated and is now the head of World Athletics.

The controversy surrounding the LHF's decision adds a layer of complexity to the intersection of sports and politics, raising questions about the true motivations behind such actions and the impact they may have on international sporting relations. As the Games of the Future unfold, the ban imposed by the Latvian federation continues to be a topic of discussion, prompting reflections on the delicate balance between sportsmanship and political considerations in the global arena.


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