The end of the battle for the stars and players is coming

An Olympics without a host? Janus x Toth Press

On the last day of this month, the staff of the International Hockey Federation (IIHF) will meet in Zurich. The organization has had a new head since September 25 in the person of Luke Tardiff. The great news is that Zsuzana Kolpenheimer also served as a member of the Presidency for another five years. He was replaced by Rene Fasselt, a 68-year-old French-Canadian sports diplomat who has led the International Hockey Organization since June 1994, for 27 years. Tardiff is the fourteenth president of the institute, the second after the French Louis Magnus (1908-1912, 1914). His Swiss predecessor had already left for a conference in parallel with the Elite World Cup 2020, but the pandemic also left the championship for his homeland and the Federal Assembly, so his term was extended by 16 months. Not idle during that time either, he was able to work out an agreement with the leaders of the North American Hockey League (NHL) and representatives of the Players’ Association there (NHLPA) so that the NHL stars could return to the ice at the 2022 Beijing Winter Games.

The 71-year-old former amateur hockey player and later referee and dentist, Fazel is credited with drawing foreign professionals to the Five Rings Games in 1998 in Nagano under the auspices of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Since then, the NHL elite have been there in 2002 in Salt Lake City, in 2006 in Turin, in 2010 in Vancouver and in 2014 in Sochi, to miss the 2018 Olympics in Pyongyang. In the latter case, NHL owners and clubs refused to cancel the league schedule and risk injury, and because the IOC and IIHF refused to pay for travel, accommodation and insurance for NHL players. Thanks to the participation of professionals, Canada won the gold medal three times, the Czech Republic and Sweden once with a gold medal (the most recent of which was a Russian victory in South Korea). A distinctive feature of Olympic hockey is that while NBA basketball players sometimes have to join the U.S. national team for the Summer Games, NHL hockey players themselves have fought for their participation. When their collective agreement was last renewed, it was also included in the agreement that would obligate clubs to release them at the 2026 Winter Games as well.

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It was not easy to reach an agreement because the professional league, which is alienated from the Olympic performance of NHL players, sought to capitalize on the agreement. In the February 2020 trial, he tried to extend his media and commercial rights to the Five Rings tournament, but the attempt failed with resistance from the IOC and IIHF, the US Olympic Channel, which owns the rights to broadcast the Winter Olympics, and NBC also sided with the International Olympic Committee and the International Hockey Federation. (The National Broadcasting Corporation has also been a television partner of the NHL for 16 years, with the parties teaming up at the end of the previous season.) And it insures them, too.

However, club owners are still not particularly enthusiastic. It is claimed that the Olympic break from February 3 to February 22 will break the momentum of the professional tournament and that the risk of injury cannot be ruled out by any insurance, and that the 12-hour delay between Beijing and New York will prevent matches on the US and Canadian screen during peak times. Of course, the big bosses could puff, and no card was dealt to them now. There is still one thing that could frustrate the Olympic performance of NHL players, though no one missed out on Covid as the lead. However, the risk of injury cannot be ruled out, and although the NHL and NHLPA found an insurance company that would have contracted the coronavirus as well, the IOC and the International Hockey Federation said no to the agreement due to astronomical insurance clauses. At the same time, the IIHF created a $5 million fund to make up for lost wages due to the coronavirus infection. Meanwhile, organizers are preparing for Covid tests with the power of steam, using the World Cup short track skaters race in Beijing next weekend and some matches of the Chinese Hockey Championship to practice. The NHL’s escape route, then, is that if the league players’ Olympic participation is “impractical or unsafe” due to the development of the pandemic, the National Hockey League may withdraw its consent to their presence in Beijing.

Such a move is not a current current problem yet, on the other hand, the start of the Chinese men’s Olympic team. The host is an ex officio participant in the 12-player tournament, regardless of its place in the international rankings, and the right to start automatically in the case of China has also been confirmed by the International Hockey Federation. Japan received similar treatment in 1998, Italy in 2006, and South Korea in 2018 – none of the rangers are currently in the top 12. But the Chinese team is currently ranked 32 on the fifty-five list, so runners still fall into that category, and as Luke Tardiff said after being elected, “If the national team gets fifteen zeros, that’s good for nobody, not China and hockey.”

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The new president of the International Hockey Federation, who has led the French Hockey Federation since 2006 and has been the treasurer of the International Hockey Federation and a member of the Executive Committee since 2012, is familiar with sports matters and his warning is unfounded: in 2018, South Korea lost all matches The four, the matches ended with a 3-19 goal difference. The Chinese team has not played a game of bets since 2019 due to the epidemic, then the division finished fifth in 2 / A – this is the fourth streak – with one win and four defeats, and only with a 4-0 defeat to the Belgians. Save him from landing. He last met a top-tier opponent at the 2017 Asian Games, when he knocked out 8-0 from Kazakhstan and 11-0 from South Korea in the same World Cup group with the Hungarian national team.

What’s more, luck also stopped him in the Olympic draw, as he left his mark in the group stage with Canada, the United States and Germany, and promised three heartbreaks. Even if, in the meantime, quite a few North American hockey players of Chinese descent were lured home in the hope that, after their naturalization, they could play for the national team; This is, in principle, possible under international rules after a waiting period of two years. However, what complicates the situation is the fact that China does not recognize the institution of dual citizenship, that is, for naturalized people.
In this case they must renounce their original citizenship; However, a Chinese passport may not be more attractive than a Canadian passport…

The backbone of the Chinese national squad is likely to be provided by the elite club, Kunlun Red Star, which competes in the Russian KHL League. The “Red Star” players include Canadian-born winger Brandon Yip of the Colorado Avalanche, the Nashville Predators and the Phoenix Coyotes, while defender Victor Bartley has spent years in the Nashville colors in the National Hockey League as well. The Kunlun Society also has eight Chinese members, among whom is someone I grew up with who has a chance to perform at the Olympics; However, two-thirds of the national team have a good chance of joining North America. To this day, Olympic participants will have to name three hockey players from the future Beijing framework. In view of the above, the Chinese, hardly by chance, are waiting until the last minute. Their first opponent, the United States, will certainly be Patrick Kane, Seth Jones (Chicago Blackhawks) and Auston Matthews (Toronto Maple Leafs).

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When Beijing was awarded the right to host the Olympics in 2015, the International Football Association (IIHF) was still enthusiastic, saying: “This decision will help promote the game around the world, and if hockey fever prevails in the world’s most populous country, it may benefit Sport is a lot of he-she.” Not to mention that the number of youth hockey players has quadrupled in the past two years, but if 8,147 youth hockey players are registered in a country of 1.4 billion people, this cannot be considered a victory for congestion. Moreover, rarely anything has happened in the past five years, Chinese hockey is doing quite well compared to itself. The International Federation sent its observers to China and, based on their experience, would decide whether the men’s team could remain at the Beijing Stadium for the Games; If not, he might be 11th in the world rankings. So it is just a question of what will happen if the IOC bypasses the idea of ​​change or tightens it up in Beijing. Let’s face it: No matter how it turns out, no one swims this group without losing face.
President Tardiff has given him the last word until the IIHF Bureau meeting, which begins on October 31.


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