There is no longer any chance of a late deal with the National Hockey League to send players to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the president of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) said on Tuesday.
“I can say that this is now gone. We can tick that off the list,” IIHF president Rene Fasel told Reuters. “We will have to look ahead to China and the Beijing 2022 Winter Games because there is an interest of the league and we have noted that.
“But logistically it is practically impossible for Pyeongchang. That train has left the station.”
The NHL had said in April it was not planning to participate at the Games next February as talks for a solution to the problem of halting its league mid-season had not been successful with the IIHF and the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The NHL had been a willing participant in the Olympics since the 1998 games in Nagano, Japan but their decision now will affect every major ice hockey nation as the world’s best players compete in that league.
While the league has refused to release players, some, including Washington Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin, said they planned to play. Ovechkin said he would compete with Team Russia even if he was the only NHL player to travel to South Korea.
“For some individuals [NHL players] who said they will come we will have to see how we will do it,” Fasel said.
The Games in Pyeongchang will take place from Feb. 9-25 next year. The NHL, unhappy over the prospect of shutting down its season for almost three weeks, had sought major concessions from the IOC, comparable to that of an Olympic top sponsor.
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