Barring a disaster in the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic, National Hockey League (NHL) players will return to the Olympics this winter in Beijing, China.
This was announced by the Circuit and Players Association (AJLNH) in a press release on Friday. An agreement has been reached with the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), but it includes an escape clause if the COVID-19 situation has made a player’s participation impossible or dangerous.
The current collective agreement between the NHL and its players stipulates that track athletes will participate in the Olympics in 2022 and 2026, but concerns about COVID-19 have cooled the enthusiasm of Commissioner Gary Pittman and his deputy, Bill Daly.
“We understand how passionate NHL players are to represent their country,” Daly said. We are very happy that we were able to make the arrangements that will allow them to compete in order to bring together the best on the Olympic stage.”
The circuit decided to skip the 2018 games, which were held in Pyeongchang, South Korea, after participating in the games in Nagano (1998), Salt Lake City (2002), Turin (2006), Vancouver (2010)) and Sochi (2014).
International Hockey Federation President Rene Fassel commented, while thanking all the speakers who made this possible decision.
Beware of COVID-19
Few details were announced, and on Friday, a message from the NHLPA allowed players circulating on social media to learn more.
Thus, it is possible to read that the IIHF, or the national associations, will be responsible for obtaining insurance for players in the event of an injury. However, insurance will not cover everything related to COVID-19.
The tournament will be held from February 9-20 and will feature 12 countries divided into three groups. Canada, Russians, Finland, Sweden, Czech Republic, United States, Germany, Switzerland, Slovakia, Latvia, Denmark and China will seek gold.
Associations will have to send the “long list” of players before October 15 and reveal the official lists in January.
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