The Czech Republic came into existence on January 1, 1993 after the dissolution of the former Czechoslovakia. This act was preceded by the “Velvet Revolution” in November 1989, after which Czechoslovakia began to unburden itself of forty years of communist rule. The Czech Republic is now a democratic nation and is scheduled to join the European Union on May 1, 2004.
The quality of services, as well as the transportation network have improved rapidly over the years in this small country in the heart of Europe. These sectors especially will play a major role during the forthcoming Ice Hockey World Championship to be held in the cities of Prague and Ostrava from where it is not a long distance to most European countries.
Distances from the closest cities are between 300-380 kilometres and thousands of fans are expected to be travelling these routes for the tournament. By car such a journey will take approximately four hours. The D1 Highway, connecting the Bohemian part of the Czech lands with the Moravian part, will be heavily frequented. Other roads too though will also be used often – whether the main road from Dolni Dvoriste upon arrival from the western part of Austria, or the reconstructed roads from the same country via Mikulov or the town of Hate. From Germany, the busiest road will be via the Rozvadov border crossing, where the D5 Highway runs through the city of Plzen. The border crossings Cinovec and Hora Svateho Sebestiana will be used from the northern part of Germany, while Harrachov, Nachod, and Cesky Tesin are the most frequently used crossings from Poland. Slovakia and the Czech Republic share roughly fifteen border crossings. The most frequented is the highway crossing of Lanzhot - Kuty. The distance from Prague to Bratislava, Slovakia’s capital amounts to only a little over 300 kilometres.
Prague will find itself at the centre of the World Championship. It is assumed that during the tournament, the Czech capital with its many historic places of interest will welcome up to fifty thousand hockey fans and tourists from different parts of the world. Among the European countries, the Russians will have to overcome the farthest distance on the road. It is 1860 kilometres from Moscow to Prague. A similar distance awaits the Finns as well. Helsinki and the Czech capital are separated by roads winding a long 1660 kilometres. In contrast to this are the Austrians and Germans who, as mentioned above, can arrive in Prague in only a couple of hours. The Finns and Russians will have to count on spending many long hours on the road if they choose to travel by car.
Most national teams will be flying to the Czech Republic. Their ultimate destination will be Prague-Ruzyne Airport, or Mosnov Airport in Ostrava. Direct flights connecting these two organizing cities take about one hour. The German team from Munich or Berlin, and the Austrians and Slovaks from their capital cities will fly to the Czech Republic around the same time. The North American teams and their fans will spend up to eight hours in planes from New York and Toronto. Team Japan will have to be in the air even longer. The Kazakhs too find themselves in a similar situation. They will probably fly via Moscow from where it takes three hours to Prague by plane. There is a minimum of at least one daily flight from the countries of most participants in the tournament.
Another means of transport will be by rail. Rail lines from the whole of Europe run to the capital where thousands of visitors will arrive at the three stations: Main Station, Masaryk, and for this championship the reconstructed Prague - Liben Station. And in April and May, hockey fans can travel between Prague and Ostrava in special lines arranged by the Czech railway system specially for the World Championship. Distances from selected European cities to Prague (in kilometres)
Copenhagen (Denmark) 740
Helsinki (Finland) 1660
Paris (France) 1090
Riga (Latvia) 1330
Berlin (Germany) 320
Munich (Germany) 380
Vienna (Austria) 340