North Pole Hockey Game to Include Vladimir Putin?

An exhibition hockey game scheduled to take place near the North Pole this April may include Russian president Vladimir Putin. According to media reports from within Russia, Putin is amongst the invitees to take part in the game, which will be played to raise awareness of climate change and its impact on the Arctic. The match, which is said to include politicians, Hollywood celebrities, musicians, and former professional hockey players, will take place at the Barneo ice camp, which is typically located somewhere above 89ºN.

The match is being organized by former Russian hockey player Vyacheslav Fetisov who is on close terms with the Russian president and has served as the UN Goodwill Ambassador for the Arctic and Antarctic under Putin’s regime. The game was suppose to have been played last year, but poor weather conditions, and worse political tensions, caused the entire season at Barneo to be scrapped. The hope is that this year, those kinds of issues have been resolved so that the Arctic base can serve as a launching pad to the North Pole for a variety of endeavors.

It has been known for sometime that Putin enjoys playing hockey and since Fetisov is a friend, there is a possibility that he may indeed play in the game. He has yet to commit to playing at the North Pole however, although his presence alone would certainly bring a fair amount of attention to the match. Who the so-called “Hollywood celebrities,” musicians, and pro hockey players that will take place in the event have yet to be revealed as well, but with several months to go Fetisov may still be waiting for confirmations.

Last year, the political fallout surrounding Russian pilots flying aircraft to Barneo was enough to cause major delays in sending travelers to that floating base. Eventually, the tensions were so high that it forced the organizers of the Barneo ice camp to pull the plug altogether, the first time it’s been closed in decades. Reportedly, there are plans in place to ensure that similar events don’t occur this year and if things run smoothly there will likely be a lot of people in the camp. Those that couldn’t go in 2019 are still waiting for their opportunity, while the regular demand for 2020 remains high.

Will Putin choose to play in the game? We’ll just have to wait to see. I’ll post more updates on the story as we get them, particularly as we edge closer to the April date for the game.