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‘Hockey fights cancer’ campaign to be launched in Moscow at Euro Hockey Tour

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Russian ice-hockey players performing in the Channel One Cup of the Euro Hockey Tour will don purple “Hockey fights cancer” jerseys during the warm-up before their match against Finland on Saturday to support children with cancer.

In October, the Russian Ice Hockey Federation and charity Rusfond launched a joint initiative called “Hockey fights cancer” to raise money and awareness for children diagnosed with cancer. The campaign also aims to support the development of the National Bone Marrow Donor Registry, named after Vasya Perevoshikov, a 10-year old from the Russian region of Udmurtia, who died after an unsuccessful search for a suitable bone-marrow donor.

At the Channel One Cup, which runs from December 13 to 17, spectators will be provided with information about the National Bone Marrow Donor Registry and its role in increasing the survival rate for people who are battling cancer. Hockey fans will also have an opportunity to donate money for the national marrow donor program.

On Saturday, an unusual event will be staged at the VTB Ice Palace before the game between Russia and Finland, in which a man whose bone marrow was donated will meet the patient whose life he saved. Their meeting, which will take place in front of a crowd of 12,000 people, is expected to highlight the problem of scarce bone-marrow donations in Russia and the importance of the National Bone Marrow Donor Registry.

Russian ice-hockey players, who have been actively involved in the cancer-battling campaign, will sign purple jerseys that will be later be auctioned to raise money for the National Bone Marrow Donor Registry.

The Channel One Cup, which celebrates its 50th anniversary, is seen as a key test for the national team ahead of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, where KHL-based Russian players will compete under a neutral flag.

On Thursday, the Russian team – led by its longtime captain Ilya Kovalchuk – delighted the home crowd by defeating their Swedish rivals 3-1.

This will be the last opportunity for the team’s head coach Oleg Znarok to test players who he is intending to include on the Olympic roster. Players competing at the Channel One Cup will likely form the backbone of the national Olympic squad as players under NHL contracts will not be permitted to go to PyeongChang following the league’s refusal to pause its regular season for the Olympics.

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‘They took our flag & anthem, but not our honor & convictions!’ - Ilya Kovalchuk

Russia’s participation at the 2018 Winter Games was in jeopardy, as it remained unclear whether the national Olympic Committee would accept the proposal to perform under no-flag status. On December 5, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) ruled to ban Russia from taking part in PyeongChang Games over an alleged “state-sponsored doping program.”

On Tuesday, the Russian Olympic Assembly announced that it will support the Russian athletes performing in South Korea under a neutral flag, rejecting the initiative of an Olympic boycott which had been voiced by several Russian officials.

Ice-hockey team captain Kovalchuk also stood in favor of entering the Games without the Russian flag, adding that the absence of the ‘flag and anthem’ does not remove the country’s ‘honor and convictions.”

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