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MOSCOW, April 4. /TASS/. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) expressed on Monday its "huge disappointment for the players who definitely wanted to play" at the 2018 Olympics, but would not be able to following the US-based NHL’s decision to pull out of the Winter Games in South Korea’s PyeongChang.
"The decision is even more regrettable, as the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) had offered the same conditions to the NHL as at previous Olympic Games, where the insurance and travel costs were covered," the IOC said in its statement.
The NHL announced on Monday that it had decided against altering its schedule for the 2017-2018 season, meaning that international players bound by contracts with NHL clubs would not be able to leave next year to join their national teams to play at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, which are scheduled to take place in South Korea’s PyeongChang next year on February 9-25.
"The IOC, which distributes 90 per cent of its revenue for the development of sport in the world, obviously cannot treat a national commercial league better than not-for-profit International Sports Federations which are developing sport globally," according to the IOC.
"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, and will be very much welcomed by their Olympic teams," the statement added.
The IIHF has been in intensive talks with the NHL regarding the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics since last year, particularly after the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) decision against covering costs, which included insurance and travel fees for NHL players.
In its statement on Monday night, the NHL officially stated that: "We have previously made clear that while the overwhelming majority of our clubs are adamantly opposed to disrupting the 2017-18 NHL season for purposes of accommodating Olympic participation by some NHL players, we were open to hearing from any of the other parties who might have an interest in the issue (e.g., the IOC, the IIHF, the NHLPA, etc.) as to reasons the Board of Governors might be interested in re-evaluating their strongly held views on the subject."
"A number of months have now passed and no meaningful dialogue has materialized," the statement said. "As a result, and in an effort to create clarity among conflicting reports and erroneous speculation, this will confirm our intention to proceed with finalizing our 2017-18 regular season schedule without any break to accommodate the Olympic Winter Games. We now consider the matter officially closed."