GENEVA (Reuters) - The ice hockey teams of Russia and Belarus will be barred from taking part in international competitions in the 2023-2024 season, the sport's governing body said on Wednesday, citing safety concerns.
"The IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation) council determined that it is not yet safe to reincorporate the Russian and Belarusian teams back into IIHF competitions, and that it will not be safe for the upcoming 2023/2024 IIHF Championship season," it said in a statement.
The IIHF suspended all Russian and Belarusian national teams and clubs from taking part in international events in every age category following Moscow's invasion of Ukraine last year. It later moved the 2023 world championships out of St Petersburg.
"It's too soon to reintegrate Russia and Belarus in our competitions," IIHF President Luc Tardif said following the organisation's council meeting.
Tardif cited "too many risks" to the safety of players, officials and fans as the reason behind the decision.
He said the IIHF would reassess the situation in March 2024, before the start of qualifying for the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan and Cortina d'Ampezzo.
(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Ed Osmond)