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NHL Players Pull Out of 2022 Beijing Olympics

The NHL players have pulled out of participation of the 2022 Beijing Olympics. An official announcement is expected soon.

According to Chris Johnston of The Toronto Star and TSN, the NHL and its players have withdrawn their participation in the 2022 Beijing Olympics. There was a lot of chatter that the rise in positive COVID cases and the potential of being stuck in Beijing for up to five weeks would change the players and its associations’ minds about going, and that decision was seemingly made official on Tuesday.

Related: NHL to Shutdown from Wednesday thru Christmas Break [Report]

Johnston reports that the two sides are in the process of finalizing the decision with the IOC (International Olympic Committee) and an official announcement is expected sometime this week, possibly as early as today.

The NHL had until January 10th to opt out without a financial penalty and while the league maintained to the players their willingness — as per the most recent collective bargaining negotiations — to allow the players to decide, there is too much risk involved. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman maintained that the players would be the ones to decide but the drastic uptick in COVID cases, and following the shutdown of several NHL teams through the holidays, it just made the most sense for the players not to participate.

Blackhawks’ captain Jonathan Toews commented on the decision and noted, “Players are going to put their own health and their families and their own clubs’ situations as priorities ahead of going to Beijing and dealing with very unpredictable scenarios. That’s the right way to go about it.”

Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff writes, “Now, the question is: Will 2022 Olympics be postponed to 2023?” If the games do go on, who plays for each respective team’s countries is still very much up in the air. Many have made the point that just because NHL players are opting out, doesn’t mean non-NHL players will jump at the chance to play but also put their health at risk.

Next: Blackhawks Have “No Restrictions” When it Comes to Trades This Season

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