The National Hockey League (NHL) vows to prioritize the safety and welfare of its players amid the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. As a result, they decided to pull out of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing.

According to reports, scheduling conflicts is one of the main reasons the NHL decided not to participate in next year's games. Instead, they hope to be back during the 2026 Olympics.

Gary Bettman releases statement

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman released a statement praising the athletes for their desire to represent their country at the Olympics. He also said it took them quite some time to decide because they wanted to exhaust all options first.

In the end, they decided that it's not feasible to push through with the games that will commence on Feb. 4 and that will end on Feb. 20.

Due to the recent postponement of matches, some games must be rescheduled between Feb. 6 and Feb. 22, which will overlap with the Olympics.

"Unfortunately, given the profound disruption to the NHL's regular-season schedule caused by recent COVID-related events -- 50 games already have been postponed through Dec. 23 -- Olympic participation is no longer feasible," Bettman said via CNN.

The commissioner added that they are grateful for the opportunity to participate in the Olympics and hope to do so when their schedule permits in 2026.

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NHL players could be forced to quarantine in China

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the NHL had until Jan. 10 to withdraw from the Olympics without financial penalty.

Edmonton Oilers star Connor McDavid said that the NHL's decision not to participate in the Olympics is devastating. But it would be even more problematic if any of the players test positive while in China, and they would be forced to quarantine for 21 days.

Prior to this week's announcement, Bill Guerin, the general manager of the USA's hockey team, said that they are looking at plan b options in case the league pulls out.

Other hockey teams in Canada, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Germany, and the Czech Republic also need to come up with plan b because some of their top players are reportedly in the NHL.

Calls for 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics boycott continue

As of press writing, other leagues have not pulled out of the Winter Olympics in 2022. However, there are whispers of a possible boycott amid concerns about China's human rights practices.

According to The OWP, many people believe that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) should not allow countries like China to host the games because it may be seen as an approval of their corrupt practices.

Others argued that China should be at the forefront of the Olympics because the country's scrutiny could trigger the change that the public has been clamoring for.

However, IOC President Thomas Bach said the Olympics Games are not responsible for changing a country, its political systems, and laws. After all, the Olympics cannot solve problems that politicians cannot even address. As of press writing, no one has officially boycotted the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

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