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NHL reportedly won't participate in the Olympics due to COVID-19 concerns

After the NHL announced plans to pause its season amid COVID-19 concerns, players reportedly won't participate in the Beijing Olympics, either. 

An agreement has been reached between the NHL and the NHL Players Association that players won't go to the games this February, both The Athletic and ESPN reported Tuesday. The news comes after the NHL announced it would temporarily pause its season beginning Wednesday prior to its Christmas break. There were already no games scheduled for Wednesday as a result of previous COVID-linked postponements, but the league said it would postpone the games scheduled for Thursday, too.

In doing so, the NHL became the "first major pro sports league in North America with plans to halt play entirely" due to a spike in COVID-19 cases driven by the Omicron variant, The Washington Post reportsAccording to The Wall Street Journal, more than 119 players are currently in the NHL's COVID-19 protocols, and ESPN reports 50 games have been postponed due to COVID-19 outbreaks. 

The NHL had a deadline of Jan. 10 to opt out of participation in the men's hockey tournament at the Olympics without facing a penalty, ESPN notes, and a formal announcement of the decision not to participate is expected within 24 hours.