Aleksandr Lukashenko meets with IIHF President Rene Fasel
Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko has promised that the forthcoming ice hockey world championship in Minsk will be the best in the history of ice hockey. Aleksandr Lukashenko made this statement as he met with President of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), member of the International Olympic Committee Rene Fasel on 17 March.
“I assure you that the world championship in Minsk will be the best championship ever. A championship is a success when all tickets are sold out. I would like to assure you that there will not be any single vacant seat. I am sure that you will be proud of this world championship,” the Belarusian head of state said addressing Rene Fasel.
Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that Rene Fasel made a great personal contribution to the preparation for the championship. “You visited Minsk many times, you offered your advice and helped supervise the work,” the President said. He thanked Rene Fasel and his colleagues for the huge amount of work and support provided to Belarus in the run-up to the championship.
The Belarusian President thanked Rene Fasel for the courage that he and the International Ice Hockey Federation demonstrated in relation to Belarus and the world championship in Minsk. “I am fully aware of the pressure on the international federation. You felt this pressure, too. Our hockey players are proud of the President of the International Ice Hockey Federation. They say that he is a real man who declared that sport has nothing to do with politics; if the decision was made to hold the championship in Minsk, it means it will be held in Minsk,” the Belarusian President said.
“The pressure was really tough. To be honest, I even started doubting the outcome when the tensions were running high. I thought – is it possible that Rene Fasel will give up and back down? He held out,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said addressing the President of the International Ice Hockey Federation.
Rene Fasel admitted that there was a certain pressure on the federation: “However, our position is simple: we keep sport and politics apart and this position remains unchanged.” Rene Fasel expressed confidence that the world championship in Minsk will be a great success and visitors and participants of the championship will enjoy the hospitality and cordiality of Belarusian people and this great event.
Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that Minsk is ready for the championship: the most advanced sports palaces were built to host the championship; there are enough additional sports facilities where athletes can train any time of the year; the necessary infrastructure was created. Ice hockey fans will be able to enter Belarus visa-free; all they need to do is to buy a ticket for any match of the championship. “The country will be wide-open for visitors. We have done everything we could, so we will not disappoint you and visitors who want to see our country,” the head of state said.
Rene Fasel presented a collection of special Olympic and Paralympic pucks to Aleksandr Lukashenko.