NHL Players Will Not Be Allowed To Compete At Winter Olympics

Fans watching NHL game at Madison Square Garden
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The National Hockey League have announced the winter break will be used to schedule postponed games, preventing players from participating at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

In the statement released on Wednesday, Gary Bettman, NHL Commissioner said:

“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,

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.”

Back in September the league and NHL Players Association reached an agreement with the International Ice Hockey Federation to allow the players to participate in their first Olympics since 2014. NHL players did not compete in the 2018 Pyeongchang Games due to a dispute over travel and insurance costs with the International Olympic Committee.

Instead the NHL Commissioner confirmed the break will now be used to schedule postponed games.

“Our focus and goal have been and must remain to responsibly and safely complete the entirety of the NHL regular season and Stanley Cup Playoffs in a timely manner. Therefore, with stringent health protocols once again in place, we will begin utilizing available dates during the Feb. 6-22 window (originally contemplated to accommodate Olympic participation) to reschedule games that have been, or may yet be, postponed.”

The league announced on Monday their decision to postpone the five remaining regular season games scheduled for Thursday December 23rd, effectively halting the season schedule.

Players will resume training on December 26th with the intention to resume play the following day.

The NHL is not the only professional sports league impacted by recent surges in Covid-19 cases. The English Premier League announced postponements to nine games within 7 days earlier this month.

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