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KHL President Alexei Morozov gave a short press conference at today’s Opening Cup game in Moscow:

I’m pleased that we started our season as planned. It feels like the spectators missed their hockey. It’s good that the fans could come to the arena, even though there are restrictions on their numbers. But at the KHL we will continue to proceed cautiously: we’re monitoring the health of our players, officials and others working at each game.

Are you following the example of the NHL?

We know that the NHL has chosen to play in ‘bubbles’ where the players are tested every day for coronavirus. But we have very different circumstances. We want our fans to be able to come to their teams’ games.

Allowing for the limited number of fans, did today go as you hoped?

Everything went as we planned. We held our opening ceremony for the season away from the ice, because that’s past of the ‘clean zone’ and prior to the ceremony we were waiting in the ‘dirty zone’. Everyone needs to stick to the regulations to ensure that we can continue with the season. Everything depends on the players and the clubs, we can only go forwards if we work together.

Russia is close to rolling out a coronavirus vaccine. Will this be given to KHL players?

Of course, we are following the progress of Russia’s coronavirus vaccine and we will consider it as an option. We need to see what effect this vaccine might have on athletes who undergo a great physical strain during the season. We will, of course, pass on all the information we receive to the coaches and medics at each club.

Would the KHL consider postponing games, if clubs are hit with a large number of infections?

We spoke with the directors of all the clubs, explaining that we have a really tight schedule. That’s why we asked everyone to closely monitor their players’ health and we can see the test results online. Right now there is no crisis in the KHL, nothing that would require us to reschedule games. Our clubs have junior teams, farm clubs, and in a situation like this there are chances for young players to gain a foothold in the KHL.

Will Riga be able to host the All-Star Game in January?

At present, preparations are continuing. We’re in regular contact with Riga. We hope we can stage the All-Star Weekend there, but we want to do it with a full arena. Things are changing fast. Yesterday in Novosibirsk it was forbidden to play a game in front of fans, today they announced that up to 25% of the arena capacity can be used.

How does the situation in Belarus affect the KHL?

Hockey is above politics. Dinamo Minsk is ready for the season, the club has provided us with every guarantee that the teams who come to play against them will be entirely safe in Belarus. We have already sent referees to Minsk and Riga, and we’re very grateful to the Foreign Ministry and Interior Ministry for quickly resolving visa issues.

Andy Potts Andy Potts
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