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Finnish Team Jokerit Withdraws from KHL Playoffs

Jokerit Helsinki has announced that they will not participate in the KHL playoffs that are set to begin on March 1.
Brian O'Neill, Jokerit

On Friday, Jokerit Helsinki, a Finnish-based club playing in the KHL, has withdrawn from the KHL playoffs that were set to begin next week.

Jokerit was set to take on HC Spartak Moscow in a first-round series, while Finnish television outlets have announced that they will not be broadcasting any of the action on their airwaves, either. 

The league will announce any changes to the playoffs at a later time.

Barys Nur-Sultan of Kazakhstan and Belarus' Dinamo Minsk, the other two non-Russian teams still in the running, are currently committed to the rest of the playoffs.

Barona, a major sponsor of Jokerit, withdrew its support of the team earlier this week in the wake of everything going on between Russia and Ukraine.

Early next week, the IIHF will hold meetings to determine the future of Russia as a host nation for upcoming international events, including the 2023 World Championship and World Junior Championship, as well as whether they will ban Russia from participating altogether, as well. 

Outside the hockey world, Formula One racing announced on Friday morning that the Russia Grand Prix, set to take place in Saint Petersburg on Sept. 23-25, will not be held this year, with drivers stating that they will boycott the event if it goes ahead as planned. 

The impact has been felt in soccer, as well, with UEFA announcing on Thursday that the organization has stripped Russia of its hosting duties for the upcoming Champions League Final, scheduled to be held in Sochi on May. 28, and will instead move the event to Paris. 

With Jokerit drawing some of its organizational funding from Russian sources, this is not a small event. As the team now pulls out of the KHL for the time being, which is the largest hockey league in the world outside of North America, the decision will undoubtedly bring with it sizeable financial consequences and further complicate a KHL season that was already cut short due to COVID-19. 

We will bring you further updates as this story continues to unfold. 

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