PyeongChang Olympic organizers still hope for NHL players; IOC, IIHF react

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SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korean Olympic organizers still hope to see NHL players competing at next year’s Winter Games despite the National Hockey League’s insistence it won’t happen.

A spokeswoman for the Pyeongchang 2018 organizing committee said Tuesday there’s still time for “meaningful discussions” on Olympic participation between the NHL, NHL Players’ Association, International Ice Hockey Federation and International Olympic Committee.

Nancy Park says the organizing committee is still hopeful that a “solution will be found for 2018.”

The NHL has announced it will not participate in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, refusing for the first time in 20 years to halt its season for three weeks so its stars can chase gold for their home countries.

The IOC called the decision “regrettable” in a statement.

“The ice hockey tournament at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 will nonetheless be a very exciting one, because the players from all the other professional ice hockey leagues will participate,” the IOC said.

IIHF president Rene Fasel‘s statement:

“While we respect the NHL’s reasons for not taking part, there is no hiding the fact that this is a decision that robs ice hockey fans of the world’s greatest best-on-best international ice hockey competition, and our sport of a truly global platform that has been in place since 1998. At the end of the day, ice hockey loses here.”

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