ZURICH /Switzerland/, November 29. /TASS/. Chances are that the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) will not allow foreign players to join their national teams for the 2018 Olympic Games in case Russia is banned from the Olympics, President of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Rene Fasel told TASS.
In early November, KHL President Dmitry Chernyshenko stated that the league was ready to come up with reciprocal measures in response to actions of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), if Russia’s team was banned from the 2018 Winter Olympic Games or Russian athletes were allowed to compete only as neutrals. Fasel said later that the KHL should allow foreigners to join their national teams for the 2018 Olympics, otherwise it could face penalties.
"There are also some concerns if the KHL will play during this Olympic break or not. They already made the agenda, the schedule of the games, it is not so easy to change that again," Fasel said. "Another question is if they do not allow players on contract to go. I hope they would release the players so they can represent their countries in Pyeongchang," the IIHF chief added.
On Tuesday, the IIHF sent a message to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), speaking out against a collective ban on Russian athletes and expressing hope that they would take part in the 2018 Olympics. The IOC is set to make a decision on the participation of Russian competitors on December 5.
"They can punish the Russian NOC, that would mean that the athletes could not compete under the Russian flag," Fasel said.
"So for an individual sport it is maybe a little bit different than for a team sport. I don’t know, in figure skating or cross-country skiing or other sports, how do they feel to compete without the flag, an individual sport is a little bit different. Is the hockey team competing under a neutral flag? This is a very difficult question," he noted, adding that nevertheless it was possible.