Strong foundations for tournament

<img class="imgl" alt="" src="http://www.belarus-magazine.by/belen/data/upimages/2009/0001-009-411.jpg">[b]Some have awaited the World Ice Hockey Championship for many months. The organising committee began its work long ago, creating the foundations upon which the event would be built. The aim is for Minsk’s hosting of the tournament to be the best in the history of World Championships. [/b]<br />The Manager of the Directorate for the 2014 Ice Hockey World Championship, Piotr Ryabukhin, shares his thoughts...
Some have awaited the World Ice Hockey Championship for many months. The organising committee began its work long ago, creating the foundations upon which the event would be built. The aim is for Minsk’s hosting of the tournament to be the best in the history of World Championships.
The Manager of the Directorate for the 2014 Ice Hockey World Championship, Piotr Ryabukhin, shares his thoughts...

Can the Belarusian World Championship really become the best to date?
It’s difficult to speak about all time, but our championship can be compared to that held recently held in Sweden. Sadly, only 500 fans attended some matches — despite it being the World Championship! Fan-zones were empty and there were no extra entertainments. From this point of view, we have an advantage. Safety is another issue on which we’re focusing. In Sweden, I gained access to the VIP-sector without being asked to show my accreditation or ticket. Tightened security measures are being introduced for the World Championship in Minsk.

How did Sweden manage to do so badly?
The Hockey Federation was exclusively engaged in carrying out the championship. However, it’s always possible to miss small details when there’s so much to oversee. In our country, the tournament’s organisation is entrusted to a committee headed by the Prime Minister, and including members of the Hockey Federation, the Directorate for the Championship, the emergency response team and 11 various divisions (from arena management to volunteers). This branched structure is proving effective.

Which aspect has proven most difficult?
It’s difficult to consider every possible nuance. In Sweden, for example, power cables were simply attached to the floor with tape and sockets hung like bunches. We tackled such matters at the planning stage, detailing everything needed at our two main arenas — down to Internet sockets.

Is it expensive to set up the Internet like that?
We’re offering wireless Internet at both arenas free of charge: wired access will cost nearly 100 Euros, but this is only a quarter of the fee charged at previous championships, which offered no free access at all. It has cost us over 110,000 Euros to set up Internet access at the arenas.

What are the main issues tackled in readiness for the World Championship?
We’ve updated the airport, assigned modern buses to teams, and have arranged the police to organise a convoy, as well as ensuring that hotels and arenas are offering the necessary facilities. I think we can say that we’re ready for the championship.

Do any of the national teams have special requirements?
Denmark wanted to ‘move’ from the Minsk Hotel into the Renaissance, which is expected to open soon. Six national teams are already allocated there. As for the rest: they’re content.

What can you say about ticket sales?
The International Ice Hockey Federation is keen to know that too: the semi-finals and finals are almost completely sold out.

When will all works be finished and do you plan a dress rehearsal?
We have a test game on May 8th and will gather information for journalists: reports from all the commissions. We don’t have a deadline as such: we simply need to be ready for the start of the World Championship.

Tell us more about media involvement.
There is so much to think of. The International Federation is in charge of accreditation so we need to co-ordinate lists of journalists with each nation’s national federation. We’ve had fewer difficulties in gathering press release materials: the official magazine for the tournament is ready for publication, as are other information booklets. The press is satisfied with the accommodation provided; some prefer to stay in four or five-star hotels, so they are arranging this independently. All hotels in Minsk have signed an agreement to hold prices during the World Championship to within 10 percent of December rates.

Has there been much interest from foreign fans?
As of today, representatives of 52 countries have bought tickets. Most are from Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Spain, Germany, the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

What will happen to spare tickets at the final moment?
Those for non-rating matches will be sold at half price to educational institutions and enterprises. It will be impossible to attend free of charge: it’s the policy of the International Hockey Federation.

We know that stalls will be selling tasty draniki and other snacks — but what about alcohol?
Alcohol won’t be sold at the arenas. The World Championship is a smoke-free zone too: covering both arenas and the fan-zones. It’s part of a social campaign. We’re ensuring full access for those with limited mobility, and have donated some places free of charge, as we have for some children from a Minsk children’s home. Those aged under 5 can accompany on their parent’s ticket — and this covers their visa-free entry.

The International Federation is being strict about not allowing official souvenir sales ahead of time: when will these appear?
It’s a difficult question. We’ve asked the Swedish firm making them to organise delivery quicker — since customs clearance is needed before distribution to shops and official points of sale. I think it won’t be long now, as the World Championship is close at hand. As each day passes, the excitement is growing.

— There are 752 volunteers from among students: all with a good knowledge of foreign languages. Another 190 students, from the Medical University, are helping man first aid stations across the city.
— Cafes and restaurants in Minsk can offer seating for around 75,000 people, and another 20,000 people may be served via public catering stalls.


By Dmitry Komashko
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