AP source: NHL to withdraw from Olympics after COVID surge

FILE - In this Feb. 15, 2020, file photo, fans pose below the NHL league logo at a display outside Falcon Stadium before an NHL Stadium Series outdoor hockey game between the Los Angeles Kings and Colorado Avalanche, at Air Force Academy, Colo. The uncertainty raised by coronavirus pandemic leads to experts providing a bleak short-term assessment on the NHL's financial bottom line, with some projecting revenues being cut by almost half. What's unclear is how large the impact might be until it can be determined when fans can resume attending games and if the league is able to complete this season.

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - The National Hockey League announced Wednesday that NHL players will not be participating in the 2022 Winter Olympics as a result of increasing COVID cases and a rising number of postponed games.

“The National Hockey League respects and admires the desires 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 Olympics Games. “NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement on Wednesday. “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 Organization 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 participating in 2026.”

The NHL instituted the Christmas holiday break on Wednesday, two days before scheduled, because of the increase number of teams shutting down because of COVID protocols.

The Nashville Predators played two games with coaches from minor league affiliate Milwaukee behind the bench and several players that had been called up before shutting down last week.

“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,” Bettman said in a statement.

 

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