Periodically, SwimSwam is updating you on the biggest news around the Olympic and Paralympic world, outside of aquatic sports. Read on to learn about North Korea’s ban from the upcoming Winter Olympics, a controversial disqualification at the Tokyo Paralympics, and good news for Olympic hockey fans.
North Korea Banned from 2022 Winter Olympics
North Korea is not allowed to participate in the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing as a consequence of dropping out of the Tokyo Olympics, International Olympic Committee President Thomas bach announced on Wednesday.
The North Korean Olympic committee is officially suspended until the end of 2022.
“They were in violation of the Olympic Charter, and did not fulfill their obligation as stated in the Olympic Charter to participate in the games of the Olympiad by sending athletes,” Bach said. He added that there is still potential for North Korean athletes to compete in Beijing under a neutral flag.
North Korea announced in April that it would sit out the Tokyo Games, citing concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic. At the 2018 Winter Games, North and South Korea marched under one flag during the Opening Ceremony,
The nation’s Beijing ban comes amid calls for broadcasters and sponsors to boycott the 2022 Games over China’s human rights abuses.
Paralympic Shotput Gold Medalist Disqualified for Arriving Late
Controversy ensued at the Paralympics after men’s shot put F20 gold medalist Muhammad Ziyad Zolkefli — along with two other athletes — was disqualified for arriving late to the competition.
Craig Spence, a spokesman for the International Paralympic Committee, told the Associated Press that the athletes were three minutes late, but were allowed to compete under protest.
After the event, a referee determined that there was “no justifiable reason for the athletes’ failure to report” on time, and an appeal was also turned down, according to a statement from World Para Athletics.
“I’m sorry. Rules are rules,” Spence said. “The decision was taken. It wasn’t the Ukrainians fault that the Malaysian was late.”
In the wake of the decision, the IPC said it was receiving “very abusive” responses on social media. “We are now seeing comments on all our social media posts that have nothing to do with the men’s shot put F20 event,” Spence said.
Much of the uproar has apparently been directed toward the Ukrainian duo who ended up with the gold and silver medals. It’s worth noting that in early 2019, however, the IPC stripped Malaysia of the World Para Swimming World Championships over the nation’s refusal to grant Israeli visas to enter the country for the event.
NHL Approves Olympic Participation
The National Hockey League and its Players’ Association reached an agreement with the International Ice Hockey Federation and International Olympic Committee to allow players to participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
The NHL season begins in mid-October and playoffs run into July, so as part of the deal, the league will break from Feb. 3-22. The Winter Games are scheduled for Feb. 4-20.
NHL players did not participate in the 2018 Winter Games, as the league and owners cited concerns about scheduling and injury risk, but did play in the five prior Olympics. But when players signed a new collective bargaining agreement with the league it 2020, it included the potential to play at the 2022 and 2026 Games.
The IIHF and IOC will cover all travel and insurance costs for NHL players who attend the Games (and potentially, their guests), according to ESPN. All NHL players who attend the Olympics will be required to get the COVID-19 vaccine, with limited exemptions.
The agreement reportedly includes an opt-out option for the NHL and NHLPA if COVID-19 conditions worsen or related cancellations during the NHL season disrupt the schedule so much that the Olympic break is needed for playing make-up games. According to ESPN, the deadline to exercise the opt-out clause is early January.