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NHL Announces Players Won't Attend 2022 Olympics amid COVID-19

Erin WalshDecember 21, 2021

M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The NHL announced Wednesday that the league's players will not participate in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics amid the rise in COVID-19 cases and the league-wide pause impacting the 2021-22 season schedule.

NHL Public Relations @PR_NHL

NHL announces that there will not be an Olympic break, NHL Players will not be able to participate in 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. <br><br>Full release: <a href="https://t.co/GkHDkNgZSo">https://t.co/GkHDkNgZSo</a> <a href="https://t.co/ysBmWctzjw">pic.twitter.com/ysBmWctzjw</a>

Frank Seravalli of the Daily Faceoff first reported the decision was coming on Tuesday.

Several teams have already been shut down because of a rise in COVID-19 cases among players, and a league-wide holiday shutdown will begin Wednesday and run through Dec. 26. 

That means the NHL needs the vacant two weeks in the February schedule, which would have been used to let players attend the Olympics, to make up the lost games.

According to ESPN's Greg Wyshynski, the NHLPA said last week that players were wary about participating in the Beijing Olympics because they hadn't received answers about COVID-19 protocols for the Games. 

Under Chinese restrictions, athletes could be forced to quarantine for at least 21 days if they test positive for COVID-19 during the Games. The length of quarantine was reportedly a big concern for players who could have been stuck in China for an uncertain period of time and missed out on pay for lost games and practices after the February break, per Wyshynski. 

However, the league's statement emphasized the impact of COVID-19 on the 2021-22 schedule, rather than player concerns about health and safety protocols in Beijing. 

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The NHL also did not participate in the 2018 Pyeongchang Games after failing to come to an agreement with the International Olympic Committee on coverage of player insurance and other accommodations. 

Before the 2018 Games, the NHL had participated in every Olympics since 1998. At the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Canada took home the gold medal, paced by defensemen Drew Doughty and Shea Weber and goaltender Carey Price.

Sweden won silver in 2014, and Finland won bronze. The United States, led by Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk, finished fourth. The Americans haven't won the Olympics since 1980's "Miracle on Ice." 

The Olympic Athletes from Russia won the 2018 Winter Olympics. 

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