NHL Players to Not Participate in Winter Olympics Due to COVID-19

© AP Photo / Josie LepeVancouver Canucks' Anders Nilsson (31) makes a save against San Jose Sharks' Joe Pavelski (8) with the help of Canucks' Christopher Tanev (8) and Michael Del Zotto (4) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in San Jose, Calif., Friday, Nov. 23, 2018
Vancouver Canucks' Anders Nilsson (31) makes a save against San Jose Sharks' Joe Pavelski (8) with the help of Canucks' Christopher Tanev (8) and Michael Del Zotto (4) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in San Jose, Calif., Friday, Nov. 23, 2018 - Sputnik International, 1920, 22.12.2021
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WASHINGTON, 22 December (Sputnik) - Players of the National Hockey League (NHL) will not be taking part in the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing due to risks linked to the coronavirus pandemic and the newly discovered Omicron variant, NHL Players’ Association (NHLPA) Executive Director Don Fehr said on Wednesday.

“Until very recently, we seemed to be on a clear path to go to Beijing. COVID-19 has unfortunately intervened, forcing dozens of games to be postponed this month alone. ... We need to utilize the Olympic period to reschedule these games”, Fehr said to the NHLPA, stressing that he expects NHL players to return to the Olympics in 2026.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said that more than 50 games have been postponed through 23 December because of the coronavirus, adding it was making Olympic participation unfeasible.
The development stems from the NHL agreement that was reached last September. It stipulated a halt in the regular NHL season designed to provide the world's major players with a chance to compete in Beijing. But the deal could be terminated in case coronavirus-linked disruptions forced matches to be rescheduled during the Olympics window.
The NHL has brought its Christmas break forward to shut down operations from Wednesday through 27 December.
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