(ATR) After shutting its doors to PyeongChang 2018, the National Hockey League once again says it is open to sending its athletes to the Beijing 2022 Olympics.
Kulun Red Star is a professional ice hockey team in Beijing (Wikimedia Commons)
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly took questions during a panel at the South By Southwest festival in Austin, Texas discussing future Olympic participation. Daly was quoted as saying “I’m not making any news today,” by the AP
, before discussing the possibility of Beijing attendance.
The NHL played its first ever exhibition games in China last September. The Vancouver Canucks and Los Angeles Kings played games in Shanghai and Beijing ahead of the 2017-18 season. The game in Beijing took place at the Wukesong Culture & Sports Center, which will host ice hockey matches at the 2022 Games.
Ultimately, whether NHL players will participate in the Beijing 2022 Olympics is not up to the NHL alone. A new deal would have to be reached with both the IOC and the International Ice Hockey Federation. Ahead of PyeongChang 2018 the IIHF lobbied hard to get NHL players to the Games, albeit unsuccessfully.
Daly made no secret of the NHL’s desire to see growth in the Chinese market, but reiterated the Olympics may not be needed for the league’s strategic goals.
“We have (a couple) of years to kind of make that decision … I don’t think it’s a critical element to our being able to grow the sport in China,” Daly was quoted as saying. “I don’t think it’s an essential.”
Daly said PyeongChang 2018 had “a lot more negatives than positives” for the league, which led to its high profile withdrawal. The NHL will study whether attending Beijing 2022 will be worth pausing the league season, something it had done for the previous five Winter Games before PyeongChang.
“I expect we’ll go through the exact same process (before 2022),” Daley said. “There may be more positives to participating in Beijing.”
Written by Aaron Bauer
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