Olympics-NHL agrees to release players for Winter Olympics

The agreement to release players for Beijing came after months of negotiations, the NHL said, adding that the agreement allowed for the possibility of withdrawal in the event that evolving COVID-19 conditions were deemed unsafe or impractical. "I know that I can speak for hockey fans around the world when I say that we absolutely welcome the decision to bring back best-on-best ice hockey to the Olympics," IHF President Rene Fasel said in a statement https://www.nhlpa.com/news/1-22177/nhl-and-nhlpa-announce-agreement-with-iihf.


Reuters | Updated: 03-09-2021 22:36 IST | Created: 03-09-2021 22:36 IST
Olympics-NHL agrees to release players for Winter Olympics

The National Hockey League (NHL) has agreed to allow a break in the 2021-22 NHL regular season that will allow the world's top players to take part in next year's Winter Olympics in Beijing, the NHL and NHL Players Association (NHLPA) said on Friday.

NHL players missed the last edition of the Winter Games in South Korea in 2018 after the league failed to negotiate a regular season break with the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF). The league, unhappy over the prospect of interrupting a regular season to send their most valuable assets overseas where they could get hurt, ended a run of five consecutive Winter Olympics when it decided not to allow its players to go to Pyeongchang in 2018.

That decision by the NHL came despite clear signs from several of the world's best players that they wanted to go. The agreement to release players for Beijing came after months of negotiations, the NHL said, adding that the agreement allowed for the possibility of withdrawal in the event that evolving COVID-19 conditions were deemed unsafe or impractical.

"I know that I can speak for hockey fans around the world when I say that we absolutely welcome the decision to bring back best-on-best ice hockey to the Olympics," IHF President Rene Fasel said in a statement https://www.nhlpa.com/news/1-22177/nhl-and-nhlpa-announce-agreement-with-iihf. "We had many constructive discussions, and a lot of hard work was put into making this happen within the time we set out for ourselves, and I want to thank all parties involved for their support and commitment."

The Beijing Games will mark the sixth Winter Olympics that NHL players will be included in the men's hockey tournament. The NHL and its players agreed to Olympic participation as part of an extension of their collective bargaining agreement last year, leaving the agreement with the IIHF the final hurdle in the way of the NHL releasing players for the Games.

The statement on Friday did not mention if COVID-19 insurance was part of the agreement with the IIHF, and NHL players heading to the Games will likely have to get vaccinated in order to participate. "We understand how passionately NHL players feel about representing and competing for their countries," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said.

"We are very pleased that we were able to conclude arrangements that will allow them to resume best-on-best competition on the Olympic stage." The Russian Olympic Committee team are the reigning Olympic champions having won gold at the 2018 Games with a 4-3 victory over Germany in the final.

The Beijing Olympics are scheduled to begin on Feb. 4 while preliminary round play of the men's ice hockey tournament starts on Feb. 9.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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