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NHL, NHLPA agree to skip Beijing Olympics due to COVID-19 concerns: report

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The NHL and its player union, the NHLPA, have agreed that players will not participate in the upcoming Beijing Olympics due to COVID-19 concerns. 

Sources told sports media outlet The Athletic about the pending decision, which will be announced soon. 

Many NHL players have differing opinions on participating in the Olympics, with Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid calling the reported COVID-19 protocols in China, where positive cases will be forced to quarantine up to five weeks, “unsettling.”

Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby said the likelihood of league players not participating in the Olympics would be “disappointing,” according to The Athletic. 

“Obviously, I know from experience how special and unique the Olympics are,” Crosby said. “And not only thinking about my experience, but thinking of the guys that haven’t had the opportunity to be part of it.” 

“And knowing what they could potentially miss, yeah, I think just ‘disappointing’ would be the best way to describe it,” Crosby added. 

The decision comes amid the league announcing it will pause the 2021-22 regular season beginning on Wednesday through Dec. 26.

The league recently postponed cross-border games for a week as multiple teams including the Calgary Flames are currently dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks, The Athletic reported. 

NHL players haven’t participated in the Winter Olympics since 2014 when Canada took home the gold medal in the two-week competition. 

The league did not allow players to participate in the 2018 Pyeongchang Games due to a dispute with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) over covering traveling and insurance costs for players while overseas, The Athletic noted.

Meanwhile, several countries, including the U.S., Canada and the U.K., have announced diplomatic boycotts of the Games due to China’s alleged human rights abuses. 

The Hill has reached out to the NHL for more information.

Tags Beijing Olympics COVID-19 outbreak National Hockey League NHL NHL NHLPA Sidney Crosby

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