The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) reaffirmed Tuesday that the Chinese men’s ice hockey team would compete in the 2022 Beijing Olympics after concerns that it would be outclassed to an unusual degree.
The announcement came after a meeting of the IIHF Council in Zurich, Switzerland.
As the host nation, China received an automatic qualification into the men’s ice hockey event despite it not being a traditional hockey-playing nation. Its current IIHF world ranking is No. 32, far behind the 11 other countries that qualified by traditional means.
NHL players are currently slated to participate in the Beijing Games after not being allowed to go to the 2018 Games. That also fueled some concern that China, which has never produced an NHL player, would be embarrassed during the competition.
China was drawn into the same group as Canada, the United States and Germany.
IIHF president Luc Tardif said the governing body was considering pulling China from the Olympics in favor of Norway, the highest-ranked country in the world to miss out on qualification.
“Watching a team being beaten 15-0 is not good for anyone — not for China, or for ice hockey,” Tardif said at the time.
But the IIHF decided to let China play after watching how Kunlun Red Star — a Chinese team in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League that features hopeful Olympic players — fared in two test games against Russian opponents. Kunlun lost both games, but made it to overtime in one.
–Field Level Media