Pyeongchang hopeful NHL stars will play

Canada's players celebrate after winning the men's ice hockey final against Sweden during the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics

Winter Olympics organisers said Wednesday they hoped that ice hockey's top names would still come to Pyeongchang in 2018 despite the National Hockey League (NHL) deciding to snub the Games.

North America's NHL announced on Monday that it would not suspend its season to accommodate the Olympics in February next year, effectively ruling out the league's international stars from travelling to South Korea.

The decision drew fury from the International Olympic Committee as well as the NHL Players' Association (NHLPA) and some top players, who want to be able to represent their countries in the Games.

The Pyeongchang Organising Committee said there was still "some time left to continue meaningful discussions" among all parties with 10 months remaining until the Winter Olympics.

"We hope that an amicable solution would come out of the discussion," the organisers said in a brief statement.

Organisers for now were not worried about potential impact on ticket sales, spokeswoman Nancy Park said, stressing there was "still time left for negotiations."

"Many players have expressed a wish to represent their nations in the Games and so do fans in their home countries... these wishes should not be ignored," she told AFP.

"We really hope that the NHL would change its mind," Park said.

NHL clubs had reportedly pressed for financial compensation from the IOC in return for suspending the season for three weeks in February.

But the IOC said it could not go beyond the travel and insurance compensation offered for previous Winter Games.

The decision by the NHL must be a "huge disappointment" for players, the IOC said Tuesday, saying it would not treat the commercial league "better than non-for-profit international sports federations."

Some top players publicly condemned the NHL, including Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin, who said he would take part in the event for Russia no matter what his club says.

"I didn't change my mind and I won't," Ovechkin told reporters Tuesday.

"Because it's my country. I think everybody wants to play there. It's the biggest opportunity in your life to play in the Olympic Games. So, I don't know, somebody (is) going to tell me 'don't go,' I don't care, I just go."

The lack of NHL star names could be a huge blow to the Winter Olympics in the remote and largely unknown north-eastern region of South Korea which has been struggling to create excitement and engagement among fans.