|IOC president Thomas Bach. — Photo fansided.com|Viet Nam News
PYEONGCHANG — International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach on Wednesday urged the National Hockey League to make the "Olympic dreams" of its players come true by giving them the chance to compete at next year’s Winter Games.
The world’s top ice hockey league is considering axing the mid-season break it usually takes for the Games in a row over money, after the IOC refused to pay its player insurance and travel costs – a bill of about US$14 million at Sochi 2014.
Bach said he hoped for positive results from talks between the NHL and the International Ice Hockey Federation.
But he refused to comment on whether ice hockey, which has been contested at the Olympics since 1920, could lose its place at the 2022 Beijing Games if the NHL doesn’t release its players.
"I still hope for a positive outcome of these negotiations because we would appreciate having the NHL players with us and the players themselves, they want to play," he said, during a visit to 2018 host Pyeongchang.
"So I would hope that the NHL and the International Ice Hockey Federation will be able to make the Olympic dreams of these players come true."
The absence of NHL players would be a blow to the Pyeongchang Games, whose profile would get a lift from the presence of the sport’s big stars.
Ice hockey also has produced some magical Olympic moments including the United States’ 1980 ’Miracle on Ice’ upset of the Soviet Union.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said after a meeting of team general managers this month that the league is still focusing on abandoning the mid-season break next year.
"I think the overwhelming sentiment of the teams is that it’s very disruptive on the season and there’s somewhere between fatigue and negativity on the subject," he said, in a posting on the NHL website. — AFP