Assassination of the flag! The International Ice Hockey Federation and its Swiss President Rene Fasel consider the change of the flags of Russia and Belarus at the Ice Hockey World Championship in Riga unacceptable
The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) reacted quickly and decisively to the chaos. "We sent a letter to the mayor of Riga. This is unacceptable for us. We will not change flags in the arena. And we will ask to remove the flags of the World Cup and IIHF from the positions where flags were changed in Riga," TASS quoted IIHF President Rene Fasel as saying.
The reaction of the Riga mayor Stakis did not have to wait long. Incorrectly, contemptuously referring to the letter of the President and a member of the International Olympic Committee, the mayor said: "We will remove the IIHF flags." This is a spit on all international sport.
It was thought that the country's President Eglis Levits, who was called upon to possess both experience and political maturity by duty, would correct the mayor who had lost his sense of reality. However, his statement aired on a local TV channel was startling. He fully supported the presumptuous Stakis, openly referring to political reasons. Unheard of and unworthy of the head of state.
Excuse me, but what is going on in the capital of Latvia? Is it the world championship in one of the most prestigious Olympic sports or the championship of Riga for the prizes of its mayor? And what is the reaction of the International Olympic Committee, one of whose most respected members, Rene Fasel, is forced to fend off attacks by distraught local officials? And how to conduct competitions in general in a country where all international laws have been trampled?
It all started with the fact that the mayor of the city of Stakis made a decision about what flags should be in the countries whose hockey teams are visiting in not too, as it turned out, the hospitable capital of Latvia. And he applied his meager, very specific knowledge in practice. By his imperial order, in the presence of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia, the flag of sovereign Belarus - a full-fledged participant in the world championship - was replaced by a panel of flowers that are dear to the heart of the mayor - the flag of the Belarusian opposition. It happened in the center of the capital, which is ruled by Stakis. It is there that the flags of the states that have come to the World Cup are displayed.
What's going on in Latvia? Is it the world championship in the most prestigious Olympic sport or the championship of Riga for the prizes of its mayor?
To admit, and have never heard of this. Not a single country in the world, even one that does not have diplomatic relations with another state, whose national team competes on its territory in an international tournament, has ever dared to commit such obvious rudeness. Even in 1936, at the Berlin Olympics, they refrained from such a thing. But Stakis for some reason is sure that he has the right to everything, even to change the flag. On Twitter, the mayor brazenly explained his decision: "Among the flags of the World Ice Hockey Championship, we support the flag of free Belarus."
But what if you imagine a different picture. Let's say that the Latvian national team respected in the hockey world, which has come to the world championship, sees in the center of another capital or city, maybe many times larger than Riga, not its own flag, but another banner. And to the question "Why?", He gets the answer straight from Stakis: "Yes, we like this flag more. We got used to it somehow."
But in Riga they did not calm down, they went on in wicked ignorance. All in the same city center, our flag was also removed: it was replaced with the flag of the Russian Olympic Committee. As the clumsily explained, this was done at the request of the World Anti-Doping Agency. But the flag was not in the sports arena. What does WADA have to do with this? It has never happened that the flags of sovereign states have been replaced so impudently, shamelessly, without preliminary warnings, at the instigation of something.
And how much there was a cry when Latvia demanded to deprive Minsk of the joint right to the World Championship. How they frightened the Stackis and others with riots, the lack of conditions for the safe conduct of the championship, promising a regime of complete favor. Under pressure from politicians, sponsors refused to help the Minsk organizers. The International Ice Hockey Federation made concessions. What did it lead to? Yes to the most scandalous world championship, not only in the history of hockey, but all of the ever held world championships. The tournament in Latvia does not have and will not have equal to itself in what is being created here. Politics not only intervened in sport, but crushed it on display, dissolved it in demonstrative Riga hostility.
The insult forced the Belarusian authorities to expel all employees of the Latvian embassy from the country. Riga has taken mirror measures. What happened on the initiative of the party "Russian Union of Latvia" will be considered at a meeting of the city duma. But it is clear in advance what answer honest oppositionists will receive in this delirium tremens.
It's unpleasant when your native symbol is changed to something else. Knocks out of the saddle. Tunes in a sad mood. Causes a feeling of disgust. Spit on the stacks and leave. But this is exactly what you cannot do. That's what it is designed for ...
... and so - after.