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NHL Weighing Whether To Send Players To Beijing Olympics As COVID-19 Continues To Cause Game Postponements

 Sports are once again in full panic mode over COVID-19. 

On Sunday, the NBA postponed five games due to COVID-19 outbreaks, and the NFL was forced to move three weekend games as the number of available players continued to dwindle. 

Now, the NHL is contemplating whether to send their players to Beijing to participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics. 

According to NHL.com, the league has postponed 40 games this season, and have now shut down multiple teams through the league’s holiday break. The league has also postponed cross-border games through the break. On Sunday, the league and the Players Association announced that a decision will be made in the coming days as to the NHL’s participation in the Winter Olympics. 

“Given the disruption to the NHL’s regular-season schedule caused by recent COVID-related events – 27 games had been postponed as of Saturday and at least 12 more will be postponed through Dec. 23 – and the continued uncertainty caused by the ongoing COVID pandemic, the NHL and NHLPA are actively discussing the matter of NHL player participation in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China, and expect to be in a position to announce a final determination in the coming days,” the sides said in a joint statement.

Due to an increase in COVID-19 cases, the NHL has already shut down seven teams through Christmas. The Nashville Predators, Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, Florida Panthers,  Boston Bruins, Detroit Red Wings, and Toronto Maple Leafs have all been shut down, though the league did say that pausing the season is not on the table. 

“Although there has been a recent increase in positive COVID test results among players, coaches and hockey staff, there have been a low number of positive cases that have resulted in concerning symptoms or serious illness,” the NHL said in a statement. “Therefore, the NHLPA’s and NHL’s medical experts have determined that, with virtually all players and club hockey staff fully vaccinated, the need to temporarily shut down individual teams should continue to be made on a case-by-case basis. 

The Winter Olympics will begin February 4 and run through February 20. 

On Saturday, Red Wings General Manager Steve Yzerman questioned why the NHL continues to test vaccinated players who don’t show any symptoms of COVID-19. 

“I know I’m getting political, but at the end of the day, our players are testing positive with very little symptoms, if any symptoms at all,” Yzerman told reporters. “I don’t see it as a threat to their health at this point. So I think we need to take it a step further and question why are we even testing guys that have no symptoms?”

“Players ultimately want to play,” Yzerman said. “None of the players have to come us and said, ‘Hey, we should shut this down.’ If they feel that way, they haven’t expressed it to us. I think our players have been very positive in (saying), ‘Just tell us what we need to do and we’ll do it.’”

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