The National Hockey League (NHL) has confirmed it will not send its players to the men’s ice hockey tournament at the Beijing Winter Olympics.
It follows disruption to the regular NHL season because of a surge in Covid-19 cases.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said “Olympic participation is no longer feasible” with 50 league games postponed up to 23 December.
The Games are scheduled to begin in China on 4 February, 2022.
Without the NHL’s stars, national teams at the Olympics will resemble those that featured at the Pyeongchang Winter Games four years ago.
With the time difference between South Korea and North America, many of the matches at the 2018 Games were played in the middle of the night for US audiences, and the NHL felt it was not right to put its league on hold for three weeks and allow its players to go to Pyeongchang.
“It’s disappointing,” said Tampa Bay captain Steven Stamkos, a Canada international.
“For whatever reason, the Olympic card just hasn’t worked out in my favour. It sucks. That’s something I probably won’t have a chance to do now.”
The NHL and players union had agreed to send athletes to the 2022 and 2026 Winter Olympics unless league seasons were impacted by Covid.