Olympic organizers ‘regret’ NHL decision to prohibit players from Beijing Games
Beijing Olympic organizers expressed their “regret” over the NHL’s decision to prohibit players from participating in the upcoming Winter Games, Reuters reported.
During a news conference on Thursday, Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG) official Huang Chun said it believed COVID-19 prevention measures would be effective in protecting athletes during the two-week games.
“We express regret that they cannot take part in the Games because of COVID,” Huang said at the news conference, according to Reuters.
“We firmly believe these COVID prevention measures can reduce the risk of infection spreading, and can ensure the health of the athletes and other Games personnel while ensuring the games go on and that the Chinese people are safe,” Huang added.
In a statement on Wednesday, the NHL and its players union announced that players won’t participate in the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics amid COVID-19 concerns.
The league paused its season this week until Dec. 27 after earlier postponing cross-border games as multiple clubs were dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks.
NHL players were set to participate in the Olympics for the first time since 2014, after the league did not allow them to participate in the 2018 Pyeongchang Games due to a dispute with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) over covering travel and insurance costs.
In a statement, International Ice Hockey Federation President Luc Tardiff said he was disappointed but understood the league’s decision, Reuters reported.
“It was a shock to see how COVID-19 affected the NHL schedule almost overnight, and we understand the NHL’s decision is in the best interest of the health and safety of its players,” Tardiff said.
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