After months of negotiations, the NHL, NHLPA, IOC, and International Olympic Committee have come to an agreement on Olympic participation. NHL players will be allowed to play.
Kings reporter John Hoven reported the news after he got his hands on an NHLPA memo, which spelled out the details.
Players are going to the Olympics. Memo was sent to NHL players… pic.twitter.com/OGqVsEKK1O
— John Hoven | The Mayor (@mayorNHL) September 3, 2021
Here’s the memo fully transcribed:
To: All NHL Players
CC: All Player Agents
From: Don Fehr
Date: 3 September 2021
RE: 2022 Beijing Olympics
We have finalized the agreement providing for participation in the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing. Below is a summary of the key terms. Please note that the National Teams and Olympic Committees will request that Players sign “participation agreements” and potentially other documents. We highly recommend that you review these materials with your agents and/or lawyers before signing, as they may contain problematic commercial and other provisions. NHLPA counsel is also available to discuss these issues with you and your agents/lawyers.
If you have questions please reach out to me or to your DPR, who will provide you with an answer or put you in touch with the right person on staff.
Timing: The games begin on February 9 and run through February 20, 2022. NHL Players will depart North America via private business class charters run by Air China on February 6.
The participating National Teams will submit their “long lists” of Players by October 15, 2021. The provisional playing rosters will be announced by January 2022.
Opt outs: Players individually have the right to decline to go to the Games at any time and without consequence. In addition, the NHL and the NHLPA have the right to terminate the participation agreement prior to Players leaving for the Games. This provides an opportunity to assess the health and safety situation over the next several months. In addition, the NHL insisted on the right to cancel Player participation in the Games if Regular Season games must be cancelled for COVID-related reasons and cannot be rescheduled within the 2021-22 Regular Season schedule (that has an Olympic break).
Insurance: All participating Players will have their contracts insured in the event of an injury, consistent with what has been in place for prior Olympics. The IIHF and/or the federations will cover the costs of this insurance.
There is NO insurance for COVID-related illnesses. The IOC/IIHF refused to pay for the cost of this insurance and insist that Players take on all the COVID risk and agree to release the IOC et al. from potential liability related to anyone contracting COVID at the Games. The IIHF has agreed to create a $5 million fund to help cover lost NHL salaries due to COVID, provided that the affected Players contracted COVID at the Games while strictly following all COVID protocols. Note that it is the NHL’s position that Players will not be paid if they miss NHL Games after Beijing for COVID-related reasons.
Protocols: The Chinese government and the IOC are still working on the protocols. All indications are the entire Games — venues, the Village, places to eat, etc. — will be played in a very tight bubble enforced by the Chinese Government. We expect that everyone inside the bubble, including athletes, will have to be vaccinated (with very limited exceptions).
It is anticipated that there also will be significant restrictions on where Players can go seven within the bubble (no walking around or sightseeing), with whom they can socialize (only those on their regular contact list, perhaps not even other athletes in the Village), as well as numerous other requirements, like daily COVID testing, social distancing, mask wearing, and frequent temperature checks. It is also likely that Players will be required to file daily activity plans and wear GPS location devices to assist with contact tracing and ensure protocol compliance.
Drug testing: We expect that Players will be subject to WADA testing, beginning on October 15, 2021, which may include testing for an expanded list of prohibited substances (e.g., THC).
Team camps: National teams are not permitted to hold in-person “orientation camps.” They may host virtual meetings of participating players prior to the Games.
On the ice: All games will be played on regulation NHL-sized rinks and officiated by NHL referees and linesmen.
Guests: We do not yet know whether guests will be permitted to attend the Games, but it seems extraordinarily unlikely as of this date. If guests are allowed, they will stay in a hotel within the bubble. One guest room per Player will be provided free of charge. Players will also receive two complimentary tickets to each of their games. One guest per Player will also be provided space on the charter flights to and from the Games free of charge.
Jerseys: Players have the right to keep the last jersey they wear during competition.
The big details here are:
12 pm update: It’s official. From the NHL:
NHL and NHLPA Announce Agreement with IIHF
NEW YORK/TORONTO (Sept. 3, 2021) – The National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) and the National Hockey League (NHL) announced today that they have concluded an Agreement with the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) that confirms a break in the 2021-22 NHL Regular Season Schedule, subject to terms of the Agreement, in order to accommodate the participation of NHL Players in the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. The Agreement allows for the possibility of a later decision to withdraw in the event evolving Covid conditions are deemed by the NHL/NHLPA to render participation by NHL Players to be impractical or unsafe.
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