IIHF president claims NHL Olympic negotiations still ongoing
Rene Fasel says final decision needs to be made no later than mid-July
Rene Fasel, the president of the International Ice Hockey Federation claims he is still negotiating with the NHL and the International Olympic Committee in regards to the NHL's participation in the 2018 Winter Olympics.
The NHL announced last month it would not be sending its players to the Olympics, but Fasel says a solution can still be found if a decision is made before mid-July.
The reason for that specific date is housing, he said.
"The problem is that the NHL always takes a large number of guests," Fasel told German newspaper Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger when asked about the time frame for a decision to be made.
"In Vancouver, we had between 600 and 800 and in Sochi over 400. In South Korea, it would be similar. Gangneung [Olympic Park] does not have extra hotel rooms. We can only release these capacities by the end of June, at the latest mid-July."
Fasel also talked about NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, and options for NHL players who may still want to participate, even if the NHL holds strong on their decision to not attend.
The NHL had grown frustrated with the lack of concessions made for their league, wanting the games to be a worthwhile venture for owners who shut down the league for a few weeks every four years.
"[Bettman] claims the same rights for the NHL as a [Olympic Programme] sponsor who pays $100 million [US]," Fasel told Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger. "He wants to use the Olympic Rings for the NHL. If the IOC says yes, what do we do with athletics, swimming, gymnastics, skiing, ice skating? Then we would have to grant these rights to all the big sports federations. It is also about the principle."
In regards to player participation, Fasel specifically cited Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin, who has said he will be attending the Olympics regardless of the NHL's decision.
"If Ovechkin wants to play at the Olympics and is registered by his National Olympic Committee, he has the right to be in Pyeongchang," Fasel told Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger. "No problem — he must simply have a passport and be reported. There are a few legal hurdles, but we are clarifying this. Certain parameters must be fulfilled, such as anti-doping."