Statement of Marek Migalski, Member of European Parliament
The International Ice Hockey Federation chose Belarus as a host of the World Cup in 2014. Every sport event is a festivity that should glorify an idea of fair competition. Also this event attracts the attention of sports fans from all over the world, which makes it possible to promote the country on the international scene. I am convinced that if the 2014 World Cup will be held in Belarus, it will become a tool to promote Europe’s last dictator – Alexander Lukashenko. It will be explicit use of sport for political purposes. As well as many other people who supported a proposal to change venue of the World Cup, I can not imagine opening the ceremony by Lukashenko, thanks to whom a lot of Belarusian oppositionist held long-term prison sentences. Every additional day of the Ice Hockey World Cup in Belarus will be a day of creating a positive image of the leader, who doesn’t respect human rights, democracy and other values of the European community.
I am very pleased by the fact that further initiatives are taken against holding the 2014 Ice Hockey World Cup in Belarus. Last month the European Parliament adopted a resolution calling to the International Ice Hockey Federation to reconsider a decision on the host country of the championship in 2014. Moreover I initiated with Peter Šťastný – Member of the European Parliament an international petition, which you can find on change.org
In February I initiated Polish a campaign: “Let’s leave the dictator on the ice”. The web site http://dyktatornalodzie.pl/ was created with a online petition. As a part of this campaign, I asked for support of this initiative to the representatives of politics, sports and culture in Poland.
I was pleased to receive information that non-governmental organizations from Switzerland, Germany, Norway, Sweden, the Czech Republic and Slovakia decided to support us and join this international campaign. I completely support their campaign “Don’t play with the dictator”. It is extremely important to find wide support for such initiatives. We can not allow a country where the opposition is persecuted, political opponents are jailed and tortured, a country which didn’t impose a moratorium on the death penalty to host such an important sports event. The world championship should be a celebration of joy, freedom and respect of the principles of fair play.
I am convinced that only joint efforts can influence on the decision of the International Ice Hockey Federation.