The possible return of Russian athletes to international sports competitions has been discussed behind the scenes in recent weeks, for example in the International Olympic Committee and openly in the direction of the NHL.
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told for ESPN (you will switch to another service)that Russian players would be wanted “in some credible way” if the top ice hockey tournament World Cup takes place in 2024.
On Thursday, a press conference was held in Tampere Areena about the upcoming World Championships and the General Secretary of the Games Heikki Hietanen also commented on questions related to Russia for Urheilu. Hietanen is a member of the International Ice Hockey Federation.
The NHL teams Columbus Blue Jackets and Colorado Avalanche will play two games in the Tampere Arena on the 4th-5th. November.
There has also been speculation as to whether Russian players should be allowed in Finland. A similar discussion is going on in the Czech Republic, because the Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks will play in Prague in early October.
– It’s not a tournament organized by the IIHF, but regular season matches organized by the NHL. As such, the decision-making power rests with the NHL. Personally, I don’t see a big contradiction, because we currently have Russians playing in Finnish teams, Hietanen answered.
Regarding the 2024 World Cup, Hietanen said that the IIHF management has been in discussions with the NHL for some time, but there is nothing major to report. Hietanen did not comment on Russia’s possible participation either.
– There is no progress regarding these games. Nothing has been agreed between the IIHF and the NHL about playing the World Cup.
Also chairman of the Finnish Ice Hockey Association Harri Nummela previously commented to Urheilu, which is the attitude towards NHL Deputy Commissioner Daly’s statements.
– The International Ice Hockey Federation has ruled that Russian and Belarusian players cannot be in international activities. The Finnish Ice Hockey Association also has a similar policy. The position in that regard has not changed. It is not necessary to reevaluate these previous decisions at this stage, Nummela stated.
– As far as I know, there have been no discussions in the IIHF about Russian participation in the World Cup in one form or another. The exit and opening has been entirely the NHL’s own thinking.
Ticket raffle process underway – “Last experience very good”
Tampere, on the other hand, is preparing to host the men’s ice hockey World Cup for the second time in a row. Tampere and Latvia’s Riga jointly hosted the tournament when the International Ice Hockey Federation IIHF withdrew the spring 2023 World Cup from Russia.
Finland is the actual competition host and Latvia is the co-host so to speak.
Registration for the Tampere match ticket lottery is now underway. You can win the right to buy day tickets in the ticket lottery. Registration for the lottery ends on October 12.
The lottery is held in October-November, after which those who won purchase rights can redeem their tickets. Day tickets for the matches in Tampere that have not been redeemed will go on open sale on 21.11. The sale of individual game tickets starts in February.
Through the draw, you can win purchase rights not only for the preliminary series, but also for the playoffs up to the finals.
A similar ticket lottery was also used in last spring’s World Cup.
– The experience we got last year was very good. We received positive feedback that it was functional and fair. We succeeded in one important thing – we didn’t want a black market, and we were able to avoid that very well, Hietanen explained the ticket lottery.
The cheapest day tickets for game days in Finland cost 35 euros for children and 57.50 euros for adults. The prices include the ticket operator’s service fees. You can see two matches with a day ticket.
Last year, during the World Cup, ticket prices caused a lot of criticism. Hietanen points out that cheap tickets were also on sale for the last games.
– Criticism came in the last meters through the media. When tickets from the international quota go on sale in the spring, they are of the premium category, i.e. the most expensive category. Cheap tickets were on sale for last spring as well, but of course they went first in the ticket raffles.
Here is the 2023 World Cup mascot and slogan
– Of course we will learn from last year. Something can always be done better. We don’t do copypaste competitions, we want to reform, but there are things we want to stick to, Hietanen described.
Practical things that will change are, for example, the logo and the competition. Last spring’s games were marketed with the theme “Making miracles”, but now with the slogan “We live the game”. According to the release, the slogan reminds us that showing all emotions is allowed in hockey, and the sport includes many emotions.
The official mascot is Spiky. The hedgehog figure is familiar from the 2021 Latvian Ice Hockey World Championships, but then it had to swing in a mostly empty hall due to the corona situation.
Last year, competition guests, especially foreign ones, were surprised at the expensive prices. Many thought that the beer mug was unnecessarily expensive, but according to Hietanen, the Ice Hockey Federation cannot influence that.
– It is the arena operator who decides on them. Finland has a tough price level, and it is not coming down, rather the opposite.
Last spring, there were a lot of empty seats in the matches, which, according to Hietanen, was due to uncertainty due to the corona and the Russian attack.
– Ticket sales on the days when Finland did not play were not successful, but I am referring to the corona situation. It constantly hindered ticket sales abroad, and the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine also had an effect and brought cancellations.
The competitions will be held in Tampere and Riga from the 12th to the 28th. May 2023.
Finland plays in the A group. Below is Finland’s match schedule in the first group:
12.5. at 16:20 Finland–USA
13.5. at 20:20 Germany–Finland
15.5. at 20:20 Finland–Sweden
17.5. at 20:20 Finland–France
19.5. at 20:20 Hungary–Finland
20.5. at 16:20 Austria–Finland
23.5. at 20:20 Finland–Denmark
Two of the semifinals will be played in Tampere, two in Riga.
The semifinals, bronze medal match and final will be played in Tampere.
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