NHL expresses ‘significant concerns’ over Israel’s place in international tournaments

The NHL said Saturday it had “significant concerns” after the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) considered barring Israeli teams from its upcoming world championship tournaments over security concerns.

The IIHF said Wednesday “Israel will not participate in IIHF competitions for the time being” but clarified Friday that the decision so far only applied to a men’s under-20 tournament starting in Bulgaria Jan. 22. 

The organization said no decision was made regarding the women’s and men’s world championship tournaments that Israel will play in March and April, respectively.


The NHL said it expressed concerns to the IIHF.

“The NHL has significant concerns with the announcement from the IIHF on Wednesday regarding the Israeli National Team’s eligibility for, and participation in, upcoming IIHF events,” the league said. “We expressed those concerns to the IIHF and have attempted to get a better understanding of both the scope and underlying rationale for the decision that was made.


“As we understand it, the decision is intended to be temporary in nature and rests solely on the IIHF’s overriding concern for the safety and security of all of its stakeholders, including both the Israeli National Team and other participating teams. 

“Importantly, we also have been assured that the decision is not intended to be a sanction against the Israeli Federation and will not affect the Israeli Federation’s status as a full member in good standing with the IIHF.”

The IIHF said it hoped to “find a way as soon as possible to bring back the Israeli National team in our championship program.”

The organization’s statements made no mention of the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. Israel had been set to host the under-20 men’s event later this month, but it was moved to Bulgaria over “already existing safety and security concerns,” the IIHF said.

The International Olympic Committee said Friday it was involved in talks about Israel’s place in ice hockey.

“The IOC is aware of the situation and has discussed the matter with the NOC (National Olympic Committee) of Israel and the IIHF over the past few weeks and has made its position very clear. Non-discrimination of any kind is part of the Fundamental Principles of the Olympic Charter, and the IOC will always uphold these principles,” the IOC said.

“As the competitions in question are not held under the authority of the IOC but under the authority of the IIHF, we refer you to the IIHF for any further questions on this topic.”

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