NHL withdraws from Olympics
by Adam Steiss|22 DEC 2021
As in the PyeongChang 2018, the Olympic Winter Games will take place without NHL players.

The National Hockey League and National Hockey League Players’ Association has informed the IIHF that  NHL players will not participate in the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing, China.

The decision comes amidst a COVID-19 outbreak that has forced the league to postpone 50 games to date and begin its Christmas season break two days earlier than planned.

IIHF President Luc Tardif was informed by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman of the decision following a meeting between the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association.

“Although we are disappointed to receive this decision by the NHL and NHLPA, we nevertheless fully understand the circumstances that forced this action to be taken,” said Tardif.

“Throughout the discussions with the IOC, BOCOG, NHL, and NHLPA, we always operated with the understanding that this was a scenario that might occur. It was a shock to see how COVID-19 affected the NHL schedule almost overnight, and we understand the NHL’s decision is in the best interest of the health and safety of its players.”

“I thank Gary Bettman, Bill Daly, and Don Fehr for their willingness to engage and participate in all the discussions that led up to the NHL players agreeing to return to the Olympics. We look forward to further talks in the future to ensure that best-on-best hockey can return to the Games in 2026 and beyond. I also wish to sincerely thank all representatives from the IIHF, IOC, BOCOG, NHL, and NHLPA for their tireless work and commitment towards creating the conditions necessary for the players to return. While we were not able to achieve this goal for Beijing 2022, we have established many strong working relationships that will help us in future discussions.”

“The IIHF will resume working with the participating Members National Associations and National Olympic Committees to prepare the teams for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games.”

The IIHF will continue to work with the IOC and BOCOG to ensure that the same health and safety standards are kept in place during the Games with players coming from other leagues as with the NHL.

The following statement was released by the NHL:

With the National Hockey League’s regular-season schedule having been materially disrupted as a result of increasing COVID cases and a rising number of postponed games, the National Hockey League announced today that NHL Players will not participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

“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 -- 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.

“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.”

National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) Executive Director Don Fehr issued the following statement today regarding the Olympics:
“Since the CBA extension was reached 17 months ago, NHL players have looked forward with great anticipation to once again participating in the Winter Olympics. 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. No matter how much we wish it were not the case, we need to utilize the Olympic period to reschedule these games.
“Certainly, the players and hockey fans are quite disappointed. But playing a full 82-game season this year, something the pandemic has prevented us from doing since the 2018-19 season, is very important. We expect that NHL players will return to the Olympics in 2026.‚Äč”