The International Ice Hockey Federation announced Monday that all Russian and Belarusian national and club teams will remain barred from IIHF-sanctioned competitions for the 2024-25 championship season. As such, the two countries will not field squads at the upcoming Men’s World Championships this spring, at the 2025 World Juniors, and, more importantly for Belarus, the final qualification round for the 2026 Winter Olympics in Italy.
This decision does not mean that Russia will be barred from the 2026 Olympics, which will be the first edition that NHLers are permitted to attend in 12 years. The IIHF Council cited current safety risks for their decision and will review each country’s status again in May 2025.
The upcoming World Juniors in Ottawa will be the fourth straight in which the Russian and Belarusian contingents have been expelled due to the former’s invasion of Ukraine and corresponding safety risks. Russia’s last appearance at the tournament came in the zero-spectator 2021 tournament held in the Edmonton bubble due to COVID-19, in which Predators prospect Yaroslav Askarov backstopped the team to a bronze-game loss. Belarus won promotion at the Division 1A tournament in 2022 and was slated to appear in the 2023 World Juniors, but was barred from competing by the IIHF. Belarus’ last top-division World Juniors showing was in 2018, where a team that featured Flames forward Yegor Sharangovich failed to avoid relegation.
While Belarus will miss the 2026 Olympics by default, given they won’t participate in the qualification tournament, Russia has automatic entry into the tournament via their world ranking – if the IIHF lifts their sanctions on the country by then. Russian teams have won gold and silver medals at the previous two Olympics without NHL participation.