NHL players won’t go to Beijing Olympics amid COVID-19 concerns: reports

December 21, 2021
NHL players won't go to Beijing Olympics amid COVID-19 concerns: reports
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The National Hockey League and National Hockey League Players’ Association have reached an agreement to not send its players to participate in the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics in February, according to reports from The Toronto Star’s Chris Johnston and Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli.

According to Johnston, the league and its players made the decision on Tuesday and now must finalize it with the International Olympic Committee. Seravalli reported on Twitter the official announcement could come as early as Tuesday or even later in the week.

CBC Sports has not been able to independently confirm the report. 

The news comes a day after the league announced the season would be shut down for its holiday break a day early, and pause activities from Dec. 21-25. Ten teams have been shut down amid COVID-19 outbreaks and a total of 50 games have been postponed this season.

Johnston reports the league made the decision based on the need to reschedule games during the three-week break the league would have had for the Olympics, scheduled to start Feb. 4. The league had until Jan. 10 to opt out of the Olympics without financial penalty.

The NHL first allowed its players to participate in the Olympics in 1998 and had to continued to do so until opting out of the PyeongChang Olympics in 2018.

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steve Stamkos, who likely would have been on Canada’s roster, told The Athletic he was disappointed with the prospect of not going to Beijing.

“You grow up dreaming of winning a Stanley Cup and I’ve been able to accomplish that,” Stamkos said Tuesday ahead of his team’s game in Las Vegas. “You grow up wanting to represent your country and win a gold medal. That’s something I probably won’t have a chance to do now.”

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