Belarus has suggested it would be able to stage the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championships alone, following Latvia having warned it will not co-host with the country after the controversial Presidential election earlier this month.
The declaration was made by Dmitry Baskov, the acting President of the Ice Hockey Federation of Belarus (FHB), following an Organising Committee meeting at Government House.
Baskov was appointed following the resignation of Gennady Savilov on Wednesday (August 26).
A statement regarding the meeting on Belarus’ Government website claimed Baskov had noted that while Belarus and Latvia are contracted to co-host the World Championships Belarus had "enough resources and infrastructure capabilities" to host the event alone "if, for some reason, the Latvian side refuses to hold a joint championship."
Latvia warned the IIHF it would consider withdrawing unless the governing body allowed the country to jointly stage the tournament with a nation other than Belarus.
Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš claimed he could not see how Latvia could co-host the event with Belarus in the current climate, following widespread protests and violence in the country after Alexander Lukashenko's controversial re-election as President.
Protests in Belarus have continued since the disputed August 9 election, where Lukashenko, who has ruled the country since 1994, supposedly won with 80 per cent of the vote.
The European Union is among those to have condemned the election, stating it was "neither free nor fair."
Belarus has been described as "Europe's last dictatorship" because of Lukashenko's lengthy spell in power.
Belarus’ Prime Minister Roman Golovchenko, who was appointed to the role by Lukashenko on August 19, has claimed Latvia’s position "sounds strange."
"The Prime Minister of Latvia announced that Latvia plans to apply to the IIHF with an initiative to replace the Republic of Belarus with another country," Golovchenko said.
"Such a statement sounds strange, especially considering that the hockey federations of both states continue fruitful and effective interaction in preparing the tournament in cooperation with the IIHF.
"The Championship Directorate has been created, the business plan of the corresponding investment project is being implemented, 12 subcommittees of the Organising Committee are working and a mascot has been selected on a competitive basis.
"An undoubted plus is that a lot has already been done in Minsk to host international sports events.
"Compared to 2014, the volume of organisational and technical tasks that we need to solve is much less, but hard work remains to be done to make the tournament a real memorable event for hockey fans around the world."
Belarus is currently scheduled to stage matches at the World Championships at the Minsk Arena, with Latvia planning to use Arena Riga.
Each city will host one group and two quarter-final games, with both semi-finals and the medal games due to be played in Minsk.
The World Championships is currently scheduled to take place from May 21 to June 6.
The IIHF Council will meet in mid-September to discuss the situation.
IIHF President René Fasel had previously insisted the governing body will press ahead with plans to hold the 2021 Men's World Championship.