Czechia fans are showing solidarity with Ukraine during the 2022 Men’s World Championships amid the escalation of the Russo-Ukrainian War — despite the IIHF’s disapproval.
A group of Czech supporters displayed Ukraine’s flag during a game Saturday, posted alongside two Czechia flags adorned with 1968 and 2022 logos, a reference to the 1968 Prague Spring where Soviet Union soldiers invaded Czechia for seven months amid mass political protests.
Despite the IIHF claiming to show solidarity with Ukraine over the past few months with a recent pact to donate $100,000 in hockey equipment while unveiling a number of sanctions against Russia — including the suspension of all of Russia and Belarus's national teams and the relocation of the 2023 IIHF Men's World Championship from St. Petersburg to Zurich, Switzerland — the international hockey governing body apparently refused to allow Ukraine’s flag to stay up because they’re not in the tournament this summer.
In an emailed statement to Yahoo Sports on Tuesday, IIHF communications manager Adam Steiss clarified the reasoning behind Ukraine's flag not being allowed inside the rink:
Arena rules state that only the flags of the participating nations are permitted to be displayed in the arena.
For IIHF events, no political messages are permitted to be displayed by fans, therefore the Czech flags that contained political messages should have also been removed.
Loosely translate the two Czech flags stated "Go Home Ivan" and "Natasha is waiting for you", which we consider political in nature.
On the ice, Czechia is off to the quarterfinals after defeating the United States 1-0 on Monday. We’ll see if their fans continue their diligent support of Ukraine as the tournament goes on, despite the IIHF’s disapproval.
More from Yahoo Sports