The NHL has said it will do everything possible to live up to its promise that players can return to the Olympics.
But with COVID cases on the rise and matches postponed, the league and players’ association accepted the inevitable and withdrew from the Beijing Olympics, the league said on Wednesday.
When the NHL reached the agreement on the 2022 Winter Games, he said it would depend on whether the COVID-19 situation would cause so much delay that the league would have to use the February 6-22 Olympic break to reschedule matches.
This has happened in recent weeks as COVID-19 cases have skyrocketed. The league postponed all cross-border matches through the Christmas holidays (Dec. 24-26) on Sunday. On Monday, he decided to start his Christmas vacation two days early. There have been 50 games postponed, including some earlier in the season, and 48 left to reschedule. According to ESPN, more than 15% of NHL players were in COVID-19 protocols as of Monday night.
ANALYSIS:Who is most hurt by the decision to withdraw from Beijing?
“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 continue despite everyone’s best efforts. , ”NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. “We are looking forward to Olympic participation in 2026.
“Our focus and goal was and must remain to complete the entire NHL regular season and Stanley Cup play-offs in a responsible and safe manner. Therefore, with strict health protocols back in place, we will start using the available dates during the February 6-22 window (originally intended to accommodate Olympic participation) to reschedule matches that have been postponed, or perhaps even postponed.
NHL players went to five Olympics from 1998 to 2014, but did not go to Pyeongchang, South Korea in 2018. Owners are not keen on the Olympic break because they believe it deprives momentum of the regular season. But players enjoy adapting to their country, so Olympic participation in 2022 and 2026 was granted in the collective bargaining agreement.
“Until very recently, we seemed to be on a clear path to go to Beijing,” NHLPA executive director Don Fehr said in a statement. “COVID-19 unfortunately intervened and forced dozens of matches to be postponed this month alone. No matter how much we wish it was not the case, we have to use the Olympic period to reschedule these matches.”
The league has until January 10 to withdraw without financial consequences. Making the decision early gives countries’ hockey federations more time to find alternative players.
The 2018 USA team was made up of minor leagues, university players and Americans playing in overseas leagues.
Russia won gold in 2018 by using players from the country’s Continental Hockey League. The US did not win medals.