The president of the Pyeongchang Olympic organizing committee is still hoping for an NHL U-turn.
“I don’t think they made the final decision so far,” committee president Lee Hee-beom said Monday at a news conference. “(There is) still room to discuss and negotiate.”
Last month, the NHL announced that it will not stop its season to allow players to compete at the Feb. 9-25 Olympics for the first time in 20 years. And Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly reiterated the NHL’s stance last week, despite International Ice Hockey Federation President Rene Fasel saying that his organization was still hopeful of working out a solution to bring the sport’s biggest stars to Pyeongchang.
Lee met with Fasel in Paris on Monday morning to discuss the issue. Paris is co-hosting the hockey world championship with the German city of Cologne, with the quarterfinals later this week.
“I had a very useful breakfast meeting with Rene Fasel this morning and I also met many ice hockey leaders in Europe,” Lee said. “We totally agreed between IIHF and Pyeongchang organizing committee that we are in the same boat. We will cooperate with the IIHF to further develop the Olympic (hockey) venues.”
He said he hopes further negotiation with the NHL will prove fruitful.
“I’m ready to meet with their (the NHL) delegations wherever it is they say to do so,” Lee said. “Very recently I met their delegation in Pyeongchang, not only the athletes’ side, but also the labor union side. Not only in Pyeongchang, but also in New York. Nothing is concluded until the final conclusion is made.”
IOC President Thomas Bach is also lending his support.
“I have discussed with him over the phone last week. We are widely open to discuss this matter,” Lee said. “We are discussing not only with IIHF but also with the IOC in many channels.”