The International Ice Hockey Federation council held a call Friday to review the Olympic eligibility of Chinese men’s national team players, though no decisions were made about the host country’s status for the upcoming tournament in Beijing.
Officials are set to review information from the Chinese Ice Hockey Association about players on the host country’s potential player list. Another meeting is scheduled for Dec. 6.
Several players on China’s national team are North Americans who moved to play for a Chinese-owned club in the Kontinental Hockey League in an attempt to naturalize and gain Olympic eligibility. But the pandemic-forced move of KHL club Kunlun Red Star out of China and to Moscow adds a layer of uncertainty about whether players meet the eligibility standard.
Kunlun played two so-called test games against KHL opponents in mid-November with IIHF officials watching closely to determine the level of competitiveness. Players’ performances in a 5-4 overtime loss and a 4-1 defeat were apparently enough to satisfy concerns about how they’ll handle NHL competition in Beijing, making eligibility the only hurdle to China remaining in the Olympics.
The IIHF originally said they would allow China to participate, but will review more information in regards to the team's player eligibility and more going forward.