WAN-IFRA members based in Finland expressed concern last month that their journalists would need visas to report on stories from Belarus if they took place outside the ice hockey tournament. Multiple Finnish news sources were considering a boycott of the tournament.
“There has been from the very beginning of the bidding process a clear communication to the bidding IIHF Member Federation from Belarus that the access to the event for all groups involved has to be organised free of visa requirements,” the letter states. “The IIHF and the Local Organising Committee in Belarus has delivered on this. The IIHF has received the full confirmation by the Government of Belarus that all accredited persons will be allowed to enter the country without applying for a visa.”
The letter continues, reiterating that journalists accredited for the tournament will be able to report on events outside the tournament, also stating that the working conditions for journalists would be excellent. The tournament will use the same media procedures as previous World Championships.
“We are only responsible for our World Championship and the organisational matters around this event. Everything over and above this responsibility is in the hands of the Belarus Government,” the letter concludes. “We are sure that everybody involved will understand and respect this responsibility of the IIHF as well as its limits.
Under President Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus has accumulated a poor human rights record, using restrictive legislation to supress dissent.
The tournament takes place from 9-25 May in Minsk, Belarus, with 16 participating countries from three continents.