International Ice Hockey Federation

Ready for action

Ready for action

Organizers give the thumbs-up

Published 06.05.2016 17:46 GMT+3 | Author Andy Potts
Ready for action
L-R: Alexander Polinski (President Organizing Committee), Rene Fasel (IIHF President) and Vladislav Tretiak (President of the Ice Hockey Federation of Russia). Photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images
Just hours before the action starts in Moscow and St. Petersburg, the tournament organizers welcome everyone to the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.

Hosting a World Championship is always special, but the 2016 edition marks a particularly notable year in Russian hockey history.

“Today’s opening games mark a very significant day here in Russia,” Vladislav Tretiak, President of the Ice Hockey Federation of Russia, said at the pre-tournament press conference in Moscow. “This year is very important as we celebrate the 70th anniversary of Soviet and Russian ice hockey. On behalf of the Federation, Russia’s hockey fans, players and veterans, I’d like to thank the IIHF for giving us the opportunity to host this year’s World Championship in Moscow and St. Petersburg.”

As part of Russia’s preparations to host the tournament, the Moscow Ice Palace was built from scratch while the Yubileiny Arena in Petersburg was extensively renovated ahead of the action in Group B.

Alexander Polinski, head of the local organizing committee, hailed a successful job in preparing the venues. “We had our final inspection of the arenas on Thursday and there were no unpleasant surprises for us. Everybody is happy,” he said. “I don’t like making predictions, but I think everything will be fine going forwards.

“None of the teams have raised any serious issues – they are happy with the accommodation, the locker rooms, the transport arrangements.”

There is also plenty of satisfaction over ticket sales. All of Russia’s games are sold out, as are all of the games in the knock-out stages. More impressively, though, Polinski added that 70% of tickets for the games without Russia have also been sold.

For IIHF President Rene Fasel, bringing the championship back to Russia for the first time since 2007 is a cause for celebration.

“Coming to Russia is always great,” he said. “This is a real hockey country – you can feel the way people are looking forward to the start of the championship. We’ve got an arena here that’s almost brand new and we should congratulate the people who built it.”

The excitement isn’t only affecting Russia – global media coverage continues to grow and looks set to build on last year’s triumph when a combined audience of 1 billion viewers followed the championship in Prague and Ostrava.

“This year we are broadcasting to 163 territories around the world,” Fasel added. “There are about 100 TV platforms with internet broadcasts. We have 80 radio stations and we are working to make our new media package even more attractive to young people who want to follow the tournament.”

Off the ice, 2016 is also a significant year within the International Ice Hockey Federation. This year’s congress, which begins on May 19, will see the election of a new council. Current president Rene Fasel is the sole candidate for the presidency, but there will be competition for the post of Vice-President from Asia. There are also 14 candidates for the seven men’s places on the council, and three women competing for two further spots on the 13-strong governing body (see nominations).

 

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