NHL Players Will Not Compete in Beijing Olympics Amid Covid, Anticipating Return at 2026 Games

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After pausing the rest of this week’s games due to a leaguewide COVID breakout, the NHL has announced that NHL players will not compete at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. In a new report from Deadline, the National Hockey League’s confirmed that players won’t compete in February’s Winter Games, however, they’re anticipating a return at Milano Cortina 2026.

“The National Hockey League respects and admires the desire 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 Olympic Games,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “Unfortunately, given the profound disruption to the NHL’s regular-season schedule caused by recent Covid-related events … Olympic participation is no longer feasible.”

Instead of competing in the Winter Olympic Games, the NHL is prepared to use that February window to reschedule postponed games. Due to rising infection rates, the league has had to postpone 50 games and has played some games without fans. The world’s premier hockey league’s top priority is to complete a full 82-game season.

“Until very recently, we seemed to be on a clear path to go to Beijing,” National Hockey League Players’ Association Executive Director Don Fehr said in a statement. He added, “Covid-19 has unfortunately intervened, forcing dozens of games to be postponed this month alone. No matter how much we wish it were not the case, we need to utilize the Olympic period to reschedule these games,” he added.

As of now, the NHL has not announced the dates on which rescheduled games will take place. After canceling the rest of this week’s games, the league has taken its holiday break early and as of now, play on the ice will return when 6 games begin at 7 PM ET, on Monday, December 27.

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