NHL players won't participate in Beijing Olympics due to COVID
The NHL announced Wednesday that the league's players will not participate in the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
Why it matters: The move comes amid a surge in coronavirus infections, largely driven by the newly discovered Omicron variant, and after the league announced that it would briefly postpone all NHL games through Christmas.
- 43 games have been postponed due to COVID-19 cases so far this season. Last week, 60 players entered the league's COVID protocols in a four-day span.
- The league said it would use "available dates during the Feb. 6-22 window ... to reschedule games that have been, or may yet be, postponed."
The big picture: The variant has upended the sports world's sense of normalcy, as leagues scramble to contain the rapid spread of the virus.
- Last week, the NFL adjusted their COVID protocols and postponed games for the first time this season due to an increase in cases.
- The NBA was also forced to reschedule games in response to the surge in positive cases.
What they're saying: "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," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement.
- "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," he added.
Flashback: The NHL introduced a strict COVID vaccination policy in September and later announced that all but four players were fully vaccinated for this season.
- Health officials are advocating for fully vaccinated people to get booster shots to better protect against the variant.