After months of speculation, the Chinese national hockey team will play in Beijing, with IIHF president Luc Tardif confirming the decision on Tuesday.
In a statement posted on the organization’s website, the IIHF and the China Ice Hockey Association will work together to use Chinese national team players in two Kunlun Red Star KHL matches on November 15 and 17. The IIHF will take this opportunity to assess the state of the team’s work up to Beijing while still working with the CIHA on its player eligibility rules.
“To be clear, the IIHF will not remove the Chinese team from the Olympic Games, the status of the men’s national team as a host country participating in the Olympic ice hockey tournament has been confirmed by Congress and remains unchanged.” , said the new IIHF president. Luc Tardif said in a statement. “We are working with the CIHA to confirm the eligibility of their players under the IIHF rules, and we will continue to assist them in their work to prepare their team for the Olympic Games.
China is eligible to participate in the Olympic Games as a host. But questions were raised very soon after the country became Olympic host in 2015 as to whether or not they would be included. China is currently ranked 32nd in the IIHF rankings, most recently playing in the Division IIA event in 2019 – the fourth-highest IIHF event. China avoided relegation with a 4-0 shutout against Belgium in the final game, sending the Belgians to Division IIB.
On top of that, there have been discussions about player eligibility, with very few national team players participating with Kunlun in any meaningful way.
The projected roster for China is still unclear, especially with the squad that missed the international game in the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. China are expected to play in a squad consisting of Canada, the United States and Germany, with most expecting games against China to be very one-sided.
This will be the first Olympic men’s hockey tournament in China, with the women’s team having had some success in the past.