BIHA President Dmitri Baskov has said Belarus should remain a co-host of the 2021 World Championship ©NOC

Newly-appointed Belarusian Ice Hockey Association (BIHA) President Dmitri Baskov has claimed there is no reason to strip the country of its co-hosting rights for the 2021 Men's World Championship.

According to Russia's official state news agency TASS, Baskov said Belarus is still able to jointly stage the tournament with Latvia despite ongoing protests in the country following the disputed re-election of President Alexander Lukashenko last month.

Baskov claimed Latvia had been "trying to politicise sport" after the nation called on the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) to find another co-host for the event.

Latvia has also threatened to withdraw as hosts unless the IIHF allowed it to co-host the tournament with a nation other than Belarus.

"The BIHA has done a great job on the application to host the World Championship together with Latvia, after we received this pre-emptive right, we began to work in this direction together," Baskov, appointed the head of the BIHA last week, said.

Protests have continued in Minsk following the re-election of Alexander Lukashenko as Belarus President ©Getty Images
Protests have continued in Minsk following the re-election of Alexander Lukashenko as Belarus President ©Getty Images

"However, today in Latvia they are trying to politicise sports, as for the sports component we have good contacts with the Latvian Ice Hockey Federation and the International Ice Hockey Federation.

"Today there are no prerequisites for not holding one of the best World Championships."

The IIHF is set to discuss the situation regarding the 2021 World Championship at its next Council meeting on September 17.

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".

There have been violent scenes and clashes between demonstrators and police in the Belarusian capital over the past month.

Countries such as Latvia have sanctioned 30 officials in Belarus, including Lukashenko, over having a "central role in falsifying election results in Belarus and using violence against peaceful protesters".