NHL players won’t take part in the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing

Blackhawks

CHICAGO, IL – JANUARY 22: A general view of an NHL logo on the back of a net during warms up prior to a game between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Tampa Bay Lightning on January 22, 2018, at the United Center in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

NEW YORK – As cases of COVID-19 rise across the NHL, the decision figured to come before the Christmas holiday, and indeed it did on Wednesday morning.

The NHL and the NHLPA officially announced that the league will not be sending players to the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing in February due to the rise in virus cases and postponements across the league over the past few weeks.

With players not participating in the Olympics, the league’s February break will not take place, and will likely feature games that were postponed over the last few weeks due to COVID-19 cases.

“The National Hockey League respects and admires the desire of NHL Players to represent their countries and participate in a ‘best on best’ tournament,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. “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.”

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