NHL Officially Puts Plan to Send Players to 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics on Ice
The league made its long-rumored decision about skipping the Games public on Wednesday morning
In news that comes as no surprise after multiple reports about it yesterday, the National Hockey League has officially announced that it will not be sending its players to compete in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
With the NHL postponing games in droves due to positive COVID-19 tests amongst players and the league taking its Christmas break earlier than usual as a response, the period from February 6-22 that was designated as a break for the Olympics will now instead be used to reschedule games that have been missed.
“The National Hockey League respects and admires the desire of NHL Players to represent their countries and participate in a ‘best on best’ tournament. Accordingly, we have waited as long as possible to make this decision while exploring every available option to enable our Players to participate in the 2022 Winter Olympic Games,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. “Unfortunately, given the profound disruption to the NHL’s regular-season schedule caused by recent COVID-related events — 50 games already have been postponed through Dec. 23 — Olympic participation is no longer feasible. We certainly acknowledge and appreciate the efforts made by the International Olympic Committee, the International Ice Hockey Federation and the Beijing Organizing Committee to host NHL Players but current circumstances have made it impossible for us to proceed despite everyone’s best efforts. We look forward to Olympic participation in 2026.”
With the NHL holding its players back, the Olympic men’s hockey tournament now will most likely feature minor leaguers, college players and pros who play in lesser leagues than the NHL. Some retired NHL players could also participate.
The decision by the league saves players who were worried about getting stuck in the stringent quarantine and isolation protocols Olympic officials and Chinese organizers have planned from deciding about whether or not they wanted to risk going to the Games in Beijing. Participants who are not vaccinated will have to spend 21 days in isolation upon their arrival in Beijing and anyone who tests positive may be forced to quarantine for the same amount of time.
“My well being have too come first and being locked down and not knowing what happens if you test positive is to much of a risk for me,” Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner wrote when he announced on Twitter that he would not play for Sweden in Beijing.
The men’s Olympic hockey tournament is scheduled to begin on February 9 with the Russian team taking on Switzerland. The NHL’s decision will not affect the women’s tournament, which is scheduled to start on February 3.
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