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NHL Players Out For 2022 Winter Olympics In Beijing Due To COVID-19 Game Postponements

 The NHL and the NHLPA (National Hockey League Players Association) have agreed that NHL players will not be participating in the upcoming 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. 

The decision comes as cases of COVID-19 have skyrocketed throughout the league, postponing 50 games and causing the league to begin the NHL’s holiday break a few days early.

“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 in a statement. “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.” 

Bettman said the league will look toward participation in the 2026 Winter Olympics, but focus will be on finishing the current NHL regular season as COVID-19 issues continue to arise.

“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,” Bettman continued. “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.”

The decision to move up the start of the league’s holiday break — which was originally scheduled for December 24-26 — came a day after the NHL announced that it did not intend for a league-wide shut down while the virus rages. Games are currently scheduled for Monday, December 27. 

“Players will report back to their Clubs on Dec. 26, which shall be used for testing, practice, and/or travel only,” the NHL said in a statement. The league also stated that “no individual in the team’s traveling party” will be able to enter the facility without a negative COVID-19 test. 

Concern over NHL participation in the Winter Games grew over the past few weeks as COVID-19 cases continued to increase, and with the potential for a long quarantine in China if a player tests positive while in Beijing for the Olympics. According to reports, the IOC informed the NHL that a player that tests positive for COVID-19 must return two negative tests 24 hours apart or face Chinese quarantine laws, which can last anywhere from 21 days to five weeks.

Many players expressed disappointment over the news, including Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby. 

“I’ve been fortunate enough to be part of two. I definitely feel for the guys who have missed numerous opportunities,” Crosby said.

“It’s not something where it’s the next year, or you push it a couple months. These are opportunities and experiences of a lifetime that you don’t get very many of as an athlete. You might only get one.”

This will be the second consecutive Olympics in which NHL players will not participate, with NHL players not taking part in the 2018 Winter Olympics due to not wanting to disrupt the 2017-2018 NHL regular season. The Olympic rosters will now be made up of amateur players and professional players from leagues other than the NHL.

Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to sports@dailywire.com.

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