NHL Out Of Beijing Olympics And On Pause Due To COVID-19 Spike

Malik Jackson
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The NHL has paused the season through Christmas Day due to COVID-19 related issues. The league is attempting to stop the spread of the virus as the numbers of players and staff testing positive has spiked over the past couple of weeks. Over 15% of the NHL’s players have been put in virus health and safety protocols. Games are supposed to resume on Saturday.

The league also announced on Wednesday that no players will be playing in the winter Beijing Olympics amid the surge in COVID-19 cases. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman sent out a statement explaining on the situation:

“We certainly acknowledge and appreciate the efforts made by the International Olympic Committee, the International Ice Hockey Federation and the Beijing Organizing Committee to host NHL Players but current circumstances have made it impossible for us to proceed despite everyone’s best efforts,”  Bettman said. “We look forward to Olympic participation in 2026.”

The NHL mandated for each NHL organization to cease operations until after December 25th: after this the league will evaluate and continue to allow players and teams to resume play the following day. The uncertainty of this virus has the world still figuring the way through what’s best for the safety of all people. Commissioner Bettman is adamant on the success of the NHL’s 2021-22 season:

“Our focus and goal have been and must remain to responsibly and safely complete the entirety of the NHL regular season and Stanley Cup Playoffs in a timely manner,” Bettman said.

The NHL and NHLPA have made the decision to use the scheduled Beijing Olympics dates of February 6th through 23rd to use for rescheduling the games postponed due to Covid-19. This will cause teams to have a stacked schedule going into the shortest month of the year before the push for the playoffs.

The NHL Players’ Association executive director, Don Fehr said in a statement: “COVID-19 has unfortunately intervened, forcing dozens of games to be postponed this month alone. No matter how much we wish it were not the case, we need to utilize the Olympic period to reschedule these games.”

The NHL still allowed two games to be on schedule for this past Tuesday before the league-wide mandate was initiated. The league ended up canceling the Capitals and Flyers game because of Covid related issues with the Capitals.

For the reminder of the NHL season it will be key to note these virus health and safety protocols and how the league deals with keeping everyone safe. Last year it was the bubble during the vitud spike, but in other leagues like the NBA, the bubble isn’t an option. It’ll be interesting to see another bubble situation play out for the league, but only time will tell.

Malik Jackson

Malik Jackson
NHL Journalist & Reporter
Washington D.C.

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