Moscow and St. Petersburg will host the 2016 ice hockey world championship.

Russia ended up winning the bid by default after its only rivals, Denmark and Ukraine, withdrew their bids at a congress of the International Ice Hockey Federation in the Slovak capital of Bratislava on Friday.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who attended the congress to support his country's bid, thanked the IIHF for its decision.

"Russia is eager to host this great tournament," Putin said. "Russia deserves to host big championships."

Russia most recently hosted the world championships in 2000 and 2007, and is the most successful team in tournament history with 25 titles.

Later Friday, Russia faced Finland in the semifinals in Bratislava and Putin was expected to be in attendance.

The worlds will be shared by Finland and Sweden in 2012 and 2013, then move to Belarus in 2014.

Members of the European Parliament in Brussels led by NHL great Peter Stastny have criticized the choice of Belarus because of the country's human rights record.

The Czech Republic will host the worlds in 2015.