December 6, 2017
Last night the IOC declared a general ban on the Russian Federation participating at the Games, due to systemic doping at the state level. This not only means that the Russian team will not be playing, but could also push the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) to follow through on its threat to prevent its players appearing at the Olympics. Four more Slovenian players are thus in danger of being excluded from the national team, Jan Muršak, Robert Sabolič, Žiga Jeglič and Rok Tičar.
The Slovenian national hockey team learned this April that Anže Kopitar, captain of the Los Angeles Kings of the National Hockey League (NHL), will not be allowed to play for the national team at the Winter Olympics, following the NHL’s decision to pull its players out of the 2018 Games, as a result of a series of disputes between the league and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) over the costs incurred by NHL athletes and who would cover them.
KHL, the second biggest league after NHL, threatened to indirectly ban its international athletes from the Olympics by cancelling the usual break the league takes for the duration of the Games, similar to what the NHL has decided to do.
The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) has already stated that the KHL, who through its membership in Russian Hockey Federation belongs to its jurisdiction, should allow its foreign players to participate in the Olympic Games, or else face a 430,000 EUR fine.