Players hoping to represent China in the men’s hockey tournament at the next Winter Olympics in Beijing lost overtime to a Russian club on Monday in a match that served as a barometer for international leaders to gauge the Chinese club’s level of competitiveness.
The Red Star of Kunlun, whose red uniform was adorned with the Chinese flag on the shoulder, erased a four-goal deficit to push into overtime before losing 5-4 to Love of Khabarovsk, the Russian club in the Continental Hockey League (KHL).
The Red Star plays in the KHL and serves as the platform for the Chinese national team. In addition, it has a base of players who have grown up in the United States and Canada and have obtained Chinese citizenship. This club has the worst record in the KHL.
The leaders of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) attended Monday’s game, and will do so again on Wednesday, to “assess the team’s progress” – and many expect the Chinese team to be abused during the Olympic tournament.
FIFA has refused to reveal the identities of Red Star players who qualify for the Olympic tournament, but one of them is winger Brandon Yip, who has played 174 NHL games – most of them with the Colorado Avalanche.
KHL records indicate that 19 Red Star players have Chinese citizenship, and more Olympics could follow.
China got its entry to the Olympics because it is the host country, and the International Federation of Architecture has already indicated that it will not try to remove teams from competitions.
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