European politicians criticise holding track cycling and ice hockey world championships in Lukashenka's Belarus.
Belarus is called the last dictatorship of Europe. Nevertheless, the Ice Hockey World Championship will be held in 2014 and the Track Cycling World Championship opens tomorrow in the country, where human rights don't exist,” Deutsche Welle reports.
Sports and politics go hand in hand in Belarus.
Protesters are being arrested, beaten and tortured in the country. Dictator Lukashenka has been in office since 1994. More than 400 people were executed since he took office. Ice hockey is Lukashenka's favourite sport. He play hockey once a week. Therefore holding international sport events in Minsk should remain in discussion.
Viola von Cramon, the expert of the Greens in the Bundestag, criticises awarding the Belarusian dictatorship with the opportunities of hosting such tournaments. According to her, holding great international championships strengthens Lukashenka's repressive regime and his power.
Ronald Pofalla, the Chief of Staff of the German Chancellery, proposed last year to move the Ice Hockey World Championship to another country.
Meantime, international sports officials close eyes to the events in Belarus and in fact give a helping hand to Lukashenka.
Rene Fasel, the president of the International Ice Hockey Federation, says at a villa in the centre of Zurich that Belarus is an ice hockey country and has the right to host the championship. Pat McQuaid, the president of the International Cycling Union, has said nothing so far to criticise holding the international contest in Minsk.
“This regime is responsible for flagrant human rights violations and bans of mass rallies. Freedom of speech does not exist in Belarus. Sporting events, such as The Ice Hockey World Championship, should not be held here. They should be hosted by democratic countries,” Harry Pahanyaila, a human rights activist and the head of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee, says.
The world championship in Belarus starts in the midst of public excitement over the recent executions and harassment of the opposition. No public discussions were held before taking a decision to organise the event. But it must change. The country that bans street rallies and violates human rights is no place for big international tournaments.