By Justin Seward
Sunny South News
The 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics arrived this week, but perhaps not without its conflicts.
While, yes, the Olympics will be something to turn on for a couple of weeks this month, it begs a question — will they be as successful as past Olympics?
NHL players not participating in their second straight games, and with the COVID-19 pandemic hovering over everyone’s heads for almost two years — it is unfortunately still around and dominating headlines worldwide which makes this an interesting Olympics.
NHL players are not able to participate, so that hurts, and let’s be honest here, nothing is better than the best-on-best in a world-class event like the Olympics.
The pros want to be there to represent their countries as there is no better feeling than throwing on your country’s crest.
While I agree this is a tough pill to swallow for many players and it could hurt the NHL’s image moving forward, it will open the door to new opportunities at the Olympics for other players.
I don’t think it is bad to try the mix of pros and amateurs at the event as AHL players not on a pro contract are heading over to China and so are some CHL players.
This may very well may be an audition for future changes to the Olympics as the men’s hockey roster looks great with some seasoned ex NHL veterans and some young blood, up-and-coming NHL prospects.
It’s a refreshing look, but for how long? Who knows as 2026 is still a long ways away.
Meanwhile, with COVID hovering over another major sporting event, and with the realization athletes will be on a tight leash with China’s strict measures, it will be interesting to see if those rules are too tight to the point where it might break athletes or competitors from carrying on with their usual routine.
Athletes will still have their patriotism of their countries on their backs and go out there and perform, but there might be thoughts creeping in as far as limited socialization with other athletes — which is important and can probably be done safely — and underperforming with the virus floating about.
We will see excitement regardless from the comfort of our homes, but who really knows what is going in the athlete’s heads. We will never know.