BOSTON (CBS) — It’s official: There will be no Olympic hockey for NHL players in 2022.

With the NHL dealing with several COVID-19 outbreaks around the league, which has forced several postponements over the last few weeks, the league announced Wednesday that NHL players will not participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

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“The National Hockey League respects and admires the desire of NHL Players to represent their countries and participate in a ‘best on best’ tournament. Accordingly, we have waited as long as possible to make this decision while exploring every available option to enable our Players to participate in the 2022 Winter Olympic Games,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a release on Wednesday. “Unfortunately, given the profound disruption to the NHL’s regular-season schedule caused by recent COVID-related events — 50 games already have been postponed through Dec. 23 — Olympic participation is no longer feasible. We certainly acknowledge and appreciate the efforts made by the International Olympic Committee, the International Ice Hockey Federation and the Beijing Organizing Committee to host NHL Players but current circumstances have made it impossible for us to proceed despite everyone’s best efforts. We look forward to Olympic participation in 2026.

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“Our focus and goal have been and must remain to responsibly and safely complete the entirety of the NHL regular season and Stanley Cup Playoffs in a timely manner,” Bettman continued. “Therefore, with stringent health protocols once again in place, we will begin utilizing available dates during the Feb. 6-22 window (originally contemplated to accommodate Olympic participation) to reschedule games that have been, or may yet be, postponed.”

“Certainly, the players and hockey fans are quite disappointed,” said NHLPA executive director Don Fehr. “But playing a full 82-game season this year, something the pandemic has prevented us from doing since the 2018-19 season, is very important. We expect that NHL players will return to the Olympics in 2026.​”

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Bruins players Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand (Team Canada) and Charlie McAvoy (Team USA) were set to participate in the Olympic games in February. Boston is among the clubs currently dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak, and will not play in any games until after Dec. 26.