NHL players to pull out of the Beijing Olympics amid rising COVID concerns

Detroit Free Press

Growing concern over the logistics of participating in a tournament on the other side of the world during the pandemic has led the NHL to decide to pull out of the Beijing Olympics.

A league source confirmed to the Detroit Free Press an official announcement is imminent.

Detroit Red Wings defenseman Moritz Seider already had been named to the German team, and Dylan Larkin (U.S.) and Lucas Raymond (Sweden) were also likely certain prospective participants.

In the week leading up to the Christmas break, multiple teams, including the Wings, shut down because of the swelling numbers of team personnel entering protocol.

GROWING LIST: Red Wings add three to swelling ranks of COVID-19 positives

The NHL and the NHL Players Association had negotiated participation in the 2022 and 2026 Olympics as part of the latest collective bargaining agreement. NHL players did not participate in the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

However, as the Beijing Olympics neared their February start and the virus and its latest strain, omicron, took hold all over the world, players expressed concern over participating. Under Chinese restrictions, Olympians could be forced to spend upwards of three weeks in quarantine in China if they test positive.

“It would be very unfortunate for anybody to get stuck in quarantine for that long and a serious unknown of when you’d come home,” Larkin said Dec. 15. “I think it’s unfortunate for all athletes.”

General manager Steve Yzerman, a former gold-medal Olympian, expressed support on Saturday for players participating in the Olympics, but acknowledged the pandemic would make participation in the 2022 Winter Games extremely challenging.

The logistics of playing an 82-game schedule also came into play. With at least 50 games to make up, the NHL could hardly afford to pause for two weeks in February, although rescheduling games during that time frame face hurdles because buildings are booked. Little Caesars Arena, for example, has 11 events scheduled from Feb. 7-22.

Contact Helene St. James at hstjames@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @helenestjames. Read more on the Detroit Red Wings and sign up for our Red Wings newsletter. Her book, The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings is available from AmazonBarnes & Noble and Triumph Books. Personalized copies available via her e-mail. 

Articles You May Like

Red Wings’ Breakout Candidates for 2023-24
Healthy again, Red Wings’ Cross Hanas sparkles at prospects tournament
Red Wings’ Takeaways From Traverse City Prospects Tournament
Red Wings Prospect Rankings: #7 William Wallinder
Red Wings’ New Additions: Roles & Predictions for 2023-24

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *