NHL Becomes First Pro League to Pause Season Because of Omicron

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With the Omicron variant causing havoc in U.S. pro sports, the National Hockey League has become the first of the three leagues with active seasons this December to suspend its season, albeit briefly, because of the the more transmissible strain.

On Monday night, the NHL announced together with the players’ union that after two scheduled games are played Tuesday, all games will be suspended until after Christmas. Because all the games Wednesday were already postponed due to COVID-10, the announcement only applies to the five games scheduled for Thursday as the league previously blocked in a holiday break on Christmas and Christmas Eve. So far during the Omicron wave, a total of 49 NHL games have been postponed; prior to the announcement of the suspended season, nine teams were already shut down until after the holiday break by positive tests. Practices are currently scheduled to begin again Sunday.

The other active sports organizations — the National Basketball Association and the National Football League — are trying to push through their seasons, which were going smoothly prior to the arrival of Omicron. On Sunday, the NBA rescheduled five games because players were in quarantine, while the rosters on some remaining teams aren’t exactly playoff caliber as over 70 players are currently out due to the virus. The NFL postponed three games for the coming week, with dozens of players currently in quarantine.

With the NHL’s brief suspension tightening up the schedule and international travel made all the more difficult by the new variant, the league is expected to make a decision in the coming days on whether to stick with a planned hiatus in February for athletes to play in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

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NHL Becomes First League to Pause Season Because of Omicron