Are NHL Players Getting Cold Feet About Playing In The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics?

COVID-19 is a major concern.

Will National Hockey League players participate in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics? At the moment the answer is yes but COVID-19 may derail NHL players from even going to Beijing, China. The NHL postponed a number of Ottawa Senators games because of COVID-19 and totally botched the COVID-19 situation with the New York Islanders outbreak making the team play despite nearly 40 percent of the roster suffering from the virus. The NHL did postpone two Islanders games. Individual players have missed games because of the illness and visiting players have been left behind in cities after being diagnosed with COVID-19 with their teams going to the next city to play. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is not stopping the players from playing in Beijing.

“We made a promise. It’s not like we haven’t expressed our concerns. But in the final analysis, subject to some caveats, with all of the issues that are being raised. The players, for the most part, seem to continue to be saying they want to go.” The NHL Players Association Executive Director Donald Fehr told ESPN, “We’re waiting on an awful lot of information to come from the IOC and the Chinese. We still don’t know what the COVID situation will be as we get closer.” The upcoming Beijing event has been under a cloud of controversy with COVID-19 near the top of the list of problems. But there are diplomatic issues and NHL players may be asked about the diplomatic Olympics boycott by the United States and Canada, two major hockey playing countries. The IOC is standing strong with its Beijing partners, after all there is money to be made. Countries are not happy with China’s human rights record, Uyghur oppression and about the origin of the COVID-19 illness in China. But the games must go on.

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(Jean-Christophe Bott/Keystone via AP