Austria have been added to the IIHF World Championship, replacing Belarus in Group B ©Getty Images

France and Austria have been drafted into the upcoming International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championship in Finland following the exclusion of Russia and Belarus over their invasion of Ukraine.

The IIHF Council has agreed to add France and Austria to the men’s event, scheduled to take place in Helsinki and Tampere from May 13 to 29, as they are the next highest-ranked teams in the world.

France will replace the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) in Group A, while Austria will take Belarus’ place in Group B.

Aside from the replacement of these teams, the game schedule remains the same with the bottom side in both groups due to be demoted.

There has also been a change to the Women’s World Championship, set to be held in Herning and Frederikshavn in Denmark from August 26 to September 4, with Sweden added to the 10-team tournament in place of the ROC.

The decisions by the IIHF Council come after it banned Russian and Belarusian teams from competing in all of its events "until further notice".

Russia has also been stripped of the hosting rights for next year’s IIHF World Junior Championship in response to the Ukraine war.

The Russian Ice Hockey Federation (RIHF) has launched an appeal, claiming the IIHF’s measures are "discriminatory".

Sweden have taken the Russian Olympic Committee's place in the Women's World Championship ©Getty Images
Sweden have taken the Russian Olympic Committee's place in the Women's World Championship ©Getty Images

The RIHF confirmed on March 17 that it had submitted a protest to the IIHF’s Disciplinary Committee.

"The actions of the RIHF are in accordance with the belief that the IIHF's restrictive measures against Russian athletes are discriminatory," a statement from the RIHF read.

"Banning players from international competition based on nationality fuels intolerance in the media and could lead to divisions within the ice hockey community, which has always been known for its unity."

With France and Austria moving up to the World Championship, the IIHF has adjusted the set-up of its Division I tournaments featuring the 10 remaining teams.

Lithuania has been promoted to Division I Group A, set to take place in Ljubljana from May 2 to 8, where they will compete against hosts Slovenia, South Korea, Hungary and Romania.

The Division I Group B, due to be held in Katowice from April 25 to May 1, consists of hosts Poland, Japan, Estonia, Ukraine and Serbia.

Under the IIHF’s revised rules, the top two teams in Group A will gain promotion and the highest-ranked side in Group B will go up with the bottom nation in each tournament suffering relegation.

The Russian Ice Hockey Federation is appealing the decisions of the IIHF Council ©Getty Images
The Russian Ice Hockey Federation is appealing the decisions of the IIHF Council ©Getty Images

The IIHF has also confirmed that there will be no relegation from the World Junior Championship, scheduled to be held in August in Canada, with Latvia added as the 10th team, replacing Russia.

The Under-18 World Championship, due to take place from April 21 to May 1 in Landshut in Germany, has been shortened to eight teams following the banning of Russia and Belarus.

Group A will feature Canada, United States, Czech Republic and Germany, while Sweden, Finland, Switzerland and Latvia will make up Group B.

With two open spots in the top division, two teams can be promoted for 2023 and no side will be relegated, according to the IIHF.

Slovakia have been approved as eighth team for this year’s Under-18 Women’s World Championship, set to be hosted by the United States in June.

It means that this year’s Division I Group A, scheduled to take place from April 3 to 9 in Hungary, will be played with five teams with the relegation-promotion format remaining unchanged.

"With respect to the Russian and Belarusian national teams, at the point when it is safe for the teams to return to the IIHF competitions, Council will decide how the teams will be reincorporated into the IIHF Championship Program," a statement from the IIHF read.