The IIHF Council was updated about the recent test event at the Olympic ice hockey facilities in Beijing, adjustments following the event and the progress of the event preparation for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games. While the organization of the events is on track, the IIHF remains in constant contact with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Beijing Organising Committee for the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (BOCOG) to optimize the conditions for the participants at the two Olympics ice hockey tournaments.
The IIHF Council was briefed concerning the impact of the withdrawal of NHL/NHLPA participation from the 2022 Olympic Winter Games. The Council discussed whether individual NHL players that have expressed a desire to participate could still play in the Games despite the league’s withdrawal from the event.
“The cooperation between the IIHF, NHL, NHLPA and the IOC is vital to the continued success and development of ice hockey globally,” said IIHF President Luc Tardif. “Any action taken by any stakeholder which jeopardizes this cooperation will not be tolerated.”
“Therefore, as it has been determined last month by the NHL Players’ Association and the NHL not to participate in Beijing, the IIHF will not assent to NHL players participating in the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in direct breach of their current playing contract with their NHL club. Respecting player contracts is a fundamental principle of the IIHF International Transfer Regulations.”
“Although we deeply regret not being able to bring back best-on-best ice hockey to the Winter Olympics, there was very positive work done between the IIHF, NHL, NHLPA, and IOC to reach an agreement that would have enabled the players to compete in Beijing. Ultimately the Covid-19 issues – that continue to drastically affect both IIHF tournaments and the NHL regular season schedule – proved too difficult to overcome this time, but we will proceed with organizing the Beijing 2022 event and will continue to work with the NHL and the NHLPA in good faith to secure NHL player participation in the 2026 Olympic Games and beyond. It remains the IIHF’s goal to secure NHL players participation and best-on-best at the Olympics for all teams in the future.”
The IIHF Council was also informed about current team withdrawals and the situation concerning event cancellations in January. Due to Covid-19 and the rapidly spreading Omicron variant, all IIHF tournaments originally planned in January were cancelled several weeks in advance.
The IIHF has been in contact with organizers, participating teams and their national associations to potentially play the recently cancelled events later this year and is working with the foreseen or if necessary potential other host countries as well as the teams to find dates for these events.
“Although there is still work to be done to secure hosts and dates, the majority of participating teams and organizers have expressed interest and willingness to participate in rescheduled events during the summer of 2022. Further meetings will be held this month to determine next steps for each of the cancelled tournaments,” said IIHF President Luc Tardif.