It is about money.
It is probably safe to say that National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman was not thinking of the Uighurs or China’s human rights record when he said the NHL might not be able to supply players for the hockey tournament during the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. NHL players want to participate but just showing up and playing is not that simple. It is always about money and Bettman, the NHL, the International Ice Hockey Federation and the International Olympic Committee know that. The continuing COVID-19 pandemic is also a massive concern because the virus has not magically disappeared.
“We have real concerns about whether or not it’s sensible to be participating. We’re already past the time that we hoped this would be resolved,” Bettman said. “We’ll deal with it, just as we’ve managed to be agile and flexible over the last 15 months. But we’re getting to be on a rather short time frame now because this can’t go on indefinitely.” The Olympics is about business. The NHL pulled the plug on its players taking part in the 2018 South Korea event because of money issues. It has been thought that the NHL wanted to showcase its product in China. China is far too big for the NHL to ignore but there is far too much money available for the NHL not to ignore. But that stance apparently has changed. In a country of more than a billion people, China had just 200 players a few years ago. Now 12,000 are on ice. It is the 2022 Winter Olympics that could prove to be a catalyst in promoting the game in China. China is a long way from being competitive on the ice and in the hockey business but more than likely that will not happen in Beijing in 2022, being competitive, unless the NHL and its players don’t show up.
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Photo: AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File