Opening of 16th International Christmas Amateur Ice Hockey Tournament

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Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko opened the 16th edition of the International Christmas Amateur Ice Hockey Tournament for the Prize of the President of Belarus and the national junior ice hockey competition Golden Puck in Minsk on 3 January.

“In these New Year day, during this festive season Minsk is literally living and breathing by star hockey. The International Christmas Amateur Ice Hockey Tournament for the Prize of the President of Belarus has brought us here again. This event of faithful knights of the people's ice game has long been dubbed as the unofficial amateur world championship,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The president noted that the tournament is popular and recognizable all over the world. It has its own traditions and symbols. Before the start of the competition, the organizers again had to solve the already familiar problem: how to fit all teams given the compact format of the tournament. The head of state recalled that competing in the event are 12 teams, including his long-time friends: hockey players from Russia, Germany, China, Finland, United Arab Emirates, Switzerland, and also Balkans and Baltics teams. According to the head of state, it is impossible to imagine the tournament without them.

“We are very happy to welcome the team of our brotherly Ukraine that has returned to Minsk after a break. We extend our warmest greetings to the newcomer of the tournament - the team of the United States of America,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. “We see the participation of IIHF Team as the confirmation of the high status of our tournament and great interest in it,” he added.

The tournament brings joy to all: both winners, prize-winners and also all participants and fans. “Because it is our favorite sport that takes the center stage," the president said.

The head of state also noted that very little time is left before the start of the 2021 IIHF World Ice Hockey Championship in Minsk. Preparations are well under way. “Belarus hopes that the 2021 event will be as big a holiday as the 2014 IIHF World Championship was,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

He thanked the participants of the tournament for participating in the charity Christmas event and wished everybody a Happy New Year. "May this new year be at least a little better than last year,” the president wished.