The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) announced on Nov. 2 that China’s men’s ice hockey team will be included in the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing. As a host nation, communist China was guaranteed an automatic spot in the tournament, a practice that started in the 2006 Olympics in Italy.
However, doubts arose about the team’s participation when the new IIHF president Luc Tardif considered omitting communist China in September due to “insufficient sporting standard.” Tardif previously expressed his concern about China being humiliated by its opponents. Speaking to AFP, Tardif said, “Watching a team being beaten 15-0 is not good for anyone, not for China or for ice hockey.”
After a three-day meeting in Zurich that ended on Tuesday, the IIHF Council released a statement on its website. “As part of ongoing evaluations of the Chinese men’s national team’s participation in the 2022 Winter Olympic Games Men’s ice hockey tournament, IIHF President Luc Tardif briefed the Council on the status of the team and reviewed the eligibility status of the players submitted in the initial team roster long list,” the statement said.
The statement further added that IIHF and the Chinese Ice Hockey Association (CIHA) are preparing to schedule two games with the players of the Chinese national team “in a joint effort to evaluate the status of the team’s preparations for Beijing 2022.”
The IIHF and CIHA will observe the eligible players of the Chinese ice hockey team when they compete as part of the Kunlun Red Star team in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) games on Nov. 15 and 17. KHL is an international professional ice hockey league established in 2008. It features 24 clubs from six countries, including China. Russia accounts for 19 clubs.
After observing the Chinese players in the KHL games, the IIHF Council will decide on the next course of action. “To be clear, the IIHF is not going to remove the Chinese team from the Olympic Games, the status of the men’s national team as a host nation participant in the Olympic ice hockey tournament was confirmed by Congress and remains unchanged,” Tardif stated. He added that IIHF will continue assisting CIHA while they prepare their team for the Olympic Games.
As per IIHF rankings, China is currently listed at the 32nd spot. At the Olympics, China will be playing in Group A which includes top-ranked Canada, Germany, and the United States.
With the International Olympic Committee (IOC) arriving at a consensus with the National Hockey League (NHL) over the release of players for the games, China’s opponents will be filled with some of the world’s best talent.
The 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing is slated to start from Feb. 4, 2022, and will feature communist China’s men’s hockey team for the first time.