Volkswagen’s Škoda Auto will not sponsor this year’s ice hockey world championship if the event is held in Belarus, due to the host country’s recent state violence against peaceful protesters, the carmaker said on January 16.
Belarus, which is due to host the tournament in May-June, is facing calls for it to be stripped of the event because of President Alexander Lukashenko’s crackdown on protesters opposing his re-election.
“We’ve been a proud partner for 28 years. But we also respect & promote all human rights,” the carmaker said in a tweet.
We’ve been a proud partner to the @IIHFHockey World Championship for 28 years. But we also respect & promote all human rights. Therefore, #SKODA will withdraw from sponsoring the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship if #Belarus is confirmed to be co-hosting the event. pic.twitter.com/fC3ZMbY2cG
— ŠKODA AUTO NEWS (@skodaautonews) January 16, 2021
“We’ve been a proud partner for 28 years. But we also respect & promote all human rights,” the carmaker said on Twitter.
“Therefore, SKODA will withdraw from sponsoring the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship if Belarus is confirmed to be co-hosting the event,” Skoda said.
Denying Belarus the right to host the event would deprive Lukashenko, an avid hockey fan and player, of staging a major international event in Belarus for the first time since his disputed re-election last August. His opponents say the vote was rigged.
Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček said earlier he could not imagine the tournament taking place in Belarus, saying that would “legitimize a repressive regime.”
Many European countries have been calling for the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) to cancel Minsk’s involvement over the violent crackdown, as well as fears that Lukashenka’s government has failed to control the coronavirus pandemic and is underreporting cases and deaths.
Lukashenko, 66, has faced months of protests demanding he step down following the disputed presidential election in August 2020.
Nearly 30,000 people have been detained, with hundreds reportedly tortured in detention and beaten on the streets in the postelection crackdown by the government.