altMay 8 - Belarus will host the World Ice Hockey Championships in 2014, it was announced today in Bern.


The former Soviet Union republic won an election of International Ice Hockey Federation (IHF) members at their annual Congress with 75 votes.


Hungary had 24, while Latvia and Ukraine each received three.


Belarus, which lost 4-3 to Russia in the quarter-finals of the current World Championships last night, plans to build two new venues to stage the event.


Finland and Sweden will co-host in 2012 and 2013.


But the executive director of the National Hockey League (NHL) Players' Association would like to see the IIHF World Hockey Championship held every two years instead of annually.

Paul Kelly is concerned at the amount of international hockey - especially in 2010 when the World Championships will be held in Germany less than three months after the end of the Vancouver Olympics.

Kelly would instead like to see the World Championship take a break during years when an Olympics or World Cup is held.


He believes it would be better for fans if there is only one major tournament held each calendar year.

He said: "I think that is part of the over-saturation, people will get confused.


"What are you holding and why are you holding it now?

"And I understand the World Championships are significant in Europe but I think the Olympic are more significant and I think the World Cup of Hockey is also a significant event.


"I just do not want to see them watered down if they are held too frequently."

The union boss hopes to start planning another World Cup with the NHL soon.


The tournament was last held in 2004 and will likely be played again in September 2011.

His plan to hold the World Championship every other year has found some backers here.

Swedish ice hockey federation president Christer Englund said: "They should close all the leagues in February and in that case we would have the best players every year.


"This is about making the value of the product better.


"I hope we see the possibilities of this suggestion and not the problems."

But the IIHF is reluctant to make any major changes to the World Championship.

President Rene Fasel refers to the tournament as his organisation's "flagship event" and notes that it currently has television contracts through 2017.


The IIHF also today accepted Kuwait and Georgia as associate members, taking the total number of national federations to 68.


It also agreed that the 12 countries playing in the men's tournament at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver must announce their squads by December 31.