Israel Bars Russian Players from Attending Hockey Game due to COVID Vaccine

Israel Bars Russian Players from Attending Hockey Game due to COVID Vaccine

According to a report on Monday, several members of a team of hockey players from Russia have been entry into Israel because of issues over the coronavirus vaccine. The Russian hockey players were visiting to participate in a ‘legends’ exhibition game organized for celebrating the 30 years of diplomatic ties between Moscow and Jerusalem. As per the reports, the game that was scheduled to take place on Thursday just might be canceled altogether. The Russian delegation comprises of a total of 36 people, which includes 24 players and 12 assistants. This includes a two-time ice hockey Olympic gold-medalist, former player Vyacheslav Fetisov and a former sports minister who has now become a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations on climate issues.

The Russian delegation is also promoting environmental issues as part of their touring activities. The inter-ministerial exceptions committee in Israel, which has been established for granting entry to people in Israel who do not qualify for it because of the COVID-19 restrictions, made the decision about the Russian players on Sunday. It decided to bar 17 players from entry, including Fetisov. As per the report, the decision of the committee was related to issues over the validity of the coronavirus vaccine given to the players. They said that the players had been given the shot too long ago. 

The exhibition game was organized by the ASCENT non-profit and Lev Gavin stated that this development would end up harming the standing of Israel on the world stage. Ganin added that they were regretful of the decision of the committee and added that their global public relations would suffer because of the decision. He added that he was in touch with the Russian ambassador to Israel, as well as Tourism Minister Yoel Razvozov, and hoped that they would find a solution for avoiding the discomfort that would be caused otherwise.

He also stated that some of these Russian delegates had visited Glasgow, Scotland recently for the UN climate conference and they had not faced any complications when entering the UK. Ganin added that he had told the committee the visiting Russians were ready to take any entry tests required for entering the country. However, he said that they had refused to grant them approval and that would end up damaging Israel’s image. The Russians were not just going to attend the games but we’re also planning on meeting Israeli ice hockey players. 

They were also going to attend a celebration at Ben Gurion University for celebrating the three decades of diplomatic relations between the two countries. The Tourism Ministry announced on Monday that they were pushing forward the date of entry of tourists into the country who had been vaccinated with the Russian Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine. Originally, these tourists were to be allowed in from November 15th, but they had now delayed it to December 1st. Questions regarding the lack of transparency in the vaccine trials in Russia has meant that the country’s vaccine is not approved by prominent organizations like the WHO. 

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