Latvia in anticipation of the 2021 IIHF World Ice Hockey Championship


Latvia in anticipation of the 2021 IIHF World Ice Hockey Championship

Will Belarusian ice hockey players show their true class at the World Championships, which Belarus will host together with Latvia in 2021? It's time to begin preparations. Both countries do have the relevant experience. Latvia hosted the IIHF WM in 2006 while Belarus in 2014.

Our correspondent Yana Shipko found out about the fusion of mutual sports and economic interests of Belarus and Latvia - from Riga and Ventspils.

The universal love for ice hockey is in the air in Latvia. Christoph tells us about hockey battles as fascinatingly as about the famous Latvian beer. He plays in an amateur team himself.

Christoph Eglitis, bartender:
We love hockey, we play it. We can go to Minsk to watch hockey... There will be a lot of tourists.

Christoph admits that the cafe lives thanks to tourists. Therefore, he will not miss the opportunity to earn during the championship.

Christoph Eglitis:
At the championship, I think, the beer will be 4-5 euros for 0.5, now it's 3, but it will be more expensive.

Meanwhile, presenting Latvia's application the mayor of Riga announced a beer for only 2 euros 20 cents. The Minsk mayor resorted to dumping - 1 euro for 0.5.

Christoph Eglitis:
2.20?! I do not know. Maybe.

Maksim Tolstoy, Chairman of the City Development Committee of the Riga City Council:
Maybe some special sort of beer will be released by 2021, we will try to surprise fans. I think we will find a common language, this is not the most important indicator. The main thing is a warm and friendly atmosphere.

Vice Mayor of Riga Maksim Tolstoy sees an impetus for the development of tourism infrastructure in the future championship. After 2006, Riga tried three more times to win the right to host the world championship. Even in tandem with Copenhagen.

Maxim Tolstoy:
We won because we correctly presented the application and Minsk has a chic arena, you recently held the IIHF WM and we also have a gorgeous arena, Belarus organizational management is awesome. Together we created a good story, which everyone liked, and they voted for us. We have what to show in ice hockey, we know how to play it, we know how to create hockey.

Residents of Riga:
It's good for a city, for economy. I heard that Belarus has a good arena and we won't have to travel long to see the semi-finals and finals.

In Latvia everyone loves hockey, and certainly all our people are very glad that the World Championships will be held here. We will support Latvia and Belarus.

The motto of the 2021 Minsk-Riga IIHF WM championship is "Passion. Without Borders".

Yana Shipko, correspondent:
Hockey is a real passion for Rigans. Despite the season is over you feel that these stands preserve the special atmosphere and energy that the fans send to their team. And now "Arena Riga" is preparing to become a world championship venue for the second time.

The Riga arena was opened for the IIHF WM 2006. It's capacity is 5,000 smaller than Minsk Arena. But it is constantly being modernized. Now even Belarusians work here. The company that equips Minsk Arena and Chizhovka Arena won a tender for the installation of all LED equipment here. The most modern video transformer will change during matches. Only Madison Square Garden boasts the same equipment.

Girts Krastins, Director of Arena Riga:
We are changing the video cube, we are also going to change lighting in the summer around the arena. We have four years so there will be many more things. We can learn something from Belarus and your arena representatives can also come and see what we have.

For both capitals, the championship is already working as a brand. Commercials with interesting facts about Belarus are already appearing on the net. We have found the Belarusian national dish - draniki - in the center of Riga. Victoria has recently visited Belarus and is now inspired by not only by culinary recipes.

Victoria Maluka:
In Belarus, it is very clean and everything is cheap. People are kind and willing to help. People try to work abroad, not to survive, but to live.

A new tax reform promises the rise in the cost of living in Latvia and influx of migrants. Among the positive sides is that profits reinvested in development will be exempt from taxes. Because of this, Latvian businesses now prefer to register in neighboring Estonia. At the same time, according to forecasts, an increase in the minimum salaries will bankrupt about 20,000 small businesses. Holes in the budget should be filled by raising excise taxes on tobacco, alcohol and gasoline. Against the background of the painful topic, doctors are on strike and even choose to go abroad.

Normunds Grostiņš, political scientist, member of the board of the European Alliance for Freedom:
The most primitive option is to increase tax rates, doctors are unhappy that there is not enough funding, people are unhappy that a lot of funding goes to military needs, although it is clear that a lot of equipment is bought under the guise of military secrets... scrap metal. We spend money to welcome foreign military personnel, create conditions for them. That's huge money. The economic condition of Latvia leaves much to be desired. We must think with whom to make friends and where to earn money. Belarus is an ideal partner. It remains to create the appropriate conditions so that Belarusian and Chinese partners feel well here and understand the stability of the tax system.

The Ventspils port has already agreed with the Chinese-Belarusian industrial park. Aivars Lembergs not only the permanent mayor of Ventspils, but also the successful Latvian millionaire, is aimed at cooperation with "The Great Stone". For logistics, the port is ready to provide the most favorable conditions. They long ago outstripped the competitors - the river gates of Klaipeda and Riga - in terms of the depth of the fairway.

Aivars Lembergs, chairman of Ventspils municipal duma:
We are considering "The Great Stone" as a way to access Scandinavia. "The Great Stone" means different kinds of cargo, it is possible that pre-trading preparations for some types of cargo will be required, we have space, transport, and infrastructure for this.

Meanwhile, Riga and Minsk are establishing food exchange.

Maksim Tolstoy:
The most popular is vodka, spirits, many specialized shops sell Belarusian shoes and clothes. We are envious of your high-quality products, your milk can get sour, your bread can become hard, this means these products are natural, which is not the case with our products...

The "Riga courtyard" is going to open near the Komarovka market in the center of Minsk. The Belarusian corner will open at the famous Riga market. However, Latvians already know the taste of Belarus.

Probably, Belarusian products will be presented at the 2021 World Championships too. After all, this is what Belarus is associated with. Kuzya and Muris are the symbols of Riga. The cats from an orphanage have been living in the mayor's office for several years. These general favorites are the most obvious candidates for the mascot of the upcoming championship. However, Riga is waiting for other offers from Belarus. After all, the right to host the IIHF WM is a common victory for both countries.