The NHL and NHL Players' Association have reportedly agreed to forego the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympic men's hockey tournament in Beijing amid a recent COVID-19 surge.
ESPN reports the NHL and NHLPA had previously agreed to participate in the 2022 and 2026 Winter Olympics unless the current NHL season was "materially impacted" by COVID-19 postponements as part of the league's newest collective bargaining agreement.
However, the league has since announced 50 postponements as of Tuesday, as well as its decision to pause the 2021-22 regular season two days prior to its planned Christmas break amid an outbreak of COVID-19 cases on Monday.
The NHL had until January 10 to decide on whether it planned to allow players to participate in the upcoming Winter Olympics without financial penalty, but the NHLPA said it planned to make a decision prior to the deadline.
ESPN reports the league is expected to make an announcement by Wednesday.
On Monday, the NHL and NHLPA agreed to postpone five games initially scheduled to take place on Thursday, according to a news release shared on NHL.com.
The two remaining games between the Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers and the Tampa Bay Lightning and Vegas Golden Knights will take place on Tuesday (December 21) night.
The NHL had previously postponed all games scheduled for Wednesday night due in relation to COVID-19, which led to the decision to postpone its five remaining games for Thursday in order to start the collectively-bargained holiday break early, giving the league a running total of 49 games postponed for 2021-22.
The league will now consider December 22-25 (Christmas Day) off days for all purposes, including travel, in adherence with its revised schedule.
Monday's announcement comes one day after the NHL confirmed both the Columbus Blue Jackets and Montreal Canadiens would be shut down through the holiday break, joining the Detroit Red Wings, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, Nashville Predators, Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, and Florida Panthers.
Additionally, four games previously scheduled between Monday and Thursday were postponed including the Blue Jackets-Buffalo Sabres matchup on Monday and Thursday and Tuesday's New Jersey Devils-Pittsburgh Penguins and Seattle Kraken-Arizona Coyotes matchups.