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MOSCOW, April 6. /TASS/. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) faces no risks of losing sponsors following the recent decision by the US-based National Hockey League (NHL) to keep its players from taking part in the next year’s Games, the IOC told TASS on Thursday.
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.
"No, this is not a concern and our Partners have not raised this possibility with us," the IOC said in its statement in reply to a TASS query whether NHL’s decision would affect 2018 PyeongChang Games sponsorship. "Our sponsorship agreements are far broader than a particular sport at one edition of the Games."
"The Worldwide TOP Partners support the entire Olympic Movement - every Olympic Games, every National Olympic Committee and its team, as well as the IOC," the statement said. "Our Partners have supported the Olympic Movement for many decades and all already have agreements in place through 2020 and several through 2024 and 2028."
The world’s governing Olympic body said that brushing aside all issues regarding the sponsorship of the Games next year, the organization was sympathizing with NHL’s international ice hockey players, who could possibly miss the much-anticipated quadrennial Olympic event next year in South Korea.
"As we said our concern is for the athletes affected as this must be a huge disappointment for them," the statement from the IOC said.
The NHL came up with an astounding statement for the global ice hockey fans on Monday night saying that the league officially confirmed its "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."
The National Hockey League Players’ Association came up later with a statement criticizing the NHL’s decision saying that the league’s players were "extraordinarily disappointed and adamantly disagree with the NHL's shortsighted decision to not continue our participation in the Olympics."
"Any sort of inconvenience the Olympics may cause to next season's schedule is a small price to pay compared to the opportunity to showcase our game and our greatest players on this enormous international stage," the statement from the NHL Players’ Association said.
The association criticized the NHL’s authorities for not only prohibiting its players for playing on the international arena, but for building obstacles for the game of ice hockey on the whole.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman proposed on Wednesday moving the Winter Olympic Games’ hockey competition to the summer period in order to avoid ruining the regular schedule.
"If the IOC would move the Olympic hockey tournament to the summer, that would be great. We’d be thrilled to have our players participate because then it doesn’t affect our season," Bettman was quoted as saying by Western media on Wednesday.
According to the NHL commissioner, the US-based league was definitely interested in growing international, "but three weeks every four years isn’t what’s going to make it."
Statistics show that a total of 121 NHL players took part in the 1998 Nagano Games, 141 in the 2002 Salt Lake City Games, 149 in 2006 Turin Games, 141 in 2010 Vancouver Olympics and 147 in 2014 Sochi Games.