KRASNODAR, March 23. /TASS/. A stance held by the US-based National Ice Hockey League (NHL) regarding the permission of its players to take part in the upcoming 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea is ‘a bit tricky,’ Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko said on Thursday.
The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) are currently in negotiations with the NHL regarding the league’s players possible participation in the next year’s Games, but no agreement was reached as of yet.
"This is still an open question, it is discussed by the IOC and the IIHF, and it mainly concerns the insurance and a feasible price," Mutko told journalists. "NHL is a commercial league and a delay would cost them greatly in financial terms as we speak about business here."
"Players are the capital inflow, but when they play at world-class tournaments it is also a capital inflow for them as new names surge and players get higher in their ranks," he said. "I believe, this is how they (NHL) should treat this issue."
"Their [NHL] position is a bit tricky because the Olympics are the Olympics and this tournament is ranked much higher than the NHL," Mutko said. "The NHL’s capital inflow is indeed very high, but I believe that they do have an opportunity of coming to terms both with sponsors and partners."
Last month, IIHF President Rene Fasel expressed hope that the NHL would come to an agreement on the 2018 Olympics issue in March.
The next Winter Olympics, which are XXIII Winter Olympic Games, will take place in South Korea’s PyeongChang on February 9-25, 2018.