The NHL Players’ Association is still waiting for information from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Beijing about COVID-19 protocols that will be in place at next year’s Winter Olympics, executive director Don Fehr said.
The National Hockey League agreed in September to allow a break in the 2021-22 regular season that would enable the world’s top players to take part in the Winter Games.
NHL players missed the last edition of the Olympics in South Korea in 2018 after the league failed to negotiate a similar season break with the International Ice Hockey Federation.
A report in the Toronto Star said the IOC had issued new COVID-19 protocol information to athletes which included a possible quarantine of up to five weeks in the case of a positive test, prompting the NHL to seek clarity.
“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,” Fehr told ESPN on Saturday.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said during Friday’s Board of Governors meeting in Florida that the players would ultimately decide if they would participate in the Games as concerns had “only been magnified” by COVID-19, according to the NHL website.
“There certainly hasn’t been a lot of players that have gone public,” Fehr said.
“But it’s fair to say that the longer it stretches out where we don’t have concrete answers to what happens over there in an unfortunate circumstance, then the more difficult it becomes.”
The IOC did not immediately reply to a Reuters request for comment.
The Beijing Games are scheduled to begin on Feb. 4 while the preliminary round play of the men’s ice hockey tournament starts on Feb. 9.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; editing by Richard Pullin)