The domestic ice hockey association in Estonia has appealed to authorities to guarantee the security of a visiting women's team from Israel.
At the end of March, an International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Women's Ice Hockey World Championship Division III, Group B tournament is due to be held at the Kohtla-Järve Ice Rink (Kohtla-Järve jäähall), in Ida-Viru County.
In addition to Estonia as hosts, plus Bosnia and Herzegovina, Singapore and Thailand, Israel is due also to compete.
Given the current security situation, the domestic hockey association, Eesti Jäähoki Liit, also known as Eesti Hoki, is appealing to the Ministry of the Interior for advice on how to ensure the security of the Israeli women's team once in Estonia.
"What security measures does the Estonian state consider necessary to implement in the current situation to ensure the safety of the Israeli women's team, as well as all other people, property etc. relating to the tournament?" Eesti Hoki president Rauno Parras wrote in an address to Minister of the Interior Lauri Läänemets (SDE).
A ministry spokesperson told ERR that the above appeal has reached them, adding the ministry will most certainly be providing assistance to event organizers, but that no further details can be provided at present.
Since Palestinian terror group Hamas launched its attacks on October 7 last year, prompting a large-scale, ongoing and controversial military incursion by Israeli forces into Gaza, many sports teams and athletes from Israel and also Palestine have had to make changes in relation to competitions, or found other difficulties in competing.
In the above address, Rauno Parras pointed out that last month the IIHF board had decided to bar the participation of the Israeli U20 youth team in the world championship tournament in Bulgaria due the same security considerations.
However, once Bulgarian authorities agreed on security measures which were also suitable deemed suitable by the IIHF, this decision was reversed and the Israeli team did take part.
The domestic ice hockey association awaits a risk assessment and plans to negate these from the Estonian authorities. "We expect the state to say how security must be ensured," Parras told ERR, noting that this situation is the first for his organization.
Estonia cannot simply refuse to accept the Israeli women's team, Parras added. "This is an international competition, where the Israeli team has honestly earned its place," he went on.
Overall the hockey association's overarching aim is to guarantee the safety of the competition for participants and spectators alike, Parras added.
The association would like a response by Friday, February 9, ahead of the IIF's next board meeting the following Monday, and the competition itself, in Kohtla-Järve in March
Parras added that he also forwarded information about the tournament to the Israeli embassy representing that country in Estonia, which is located in Helsinki.
The Ministry of the Interior as noted has pledged to help the hockey association and the tournament organizers.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Mait Ots