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Pyeongchang 2018 chief reiterates desire to cooperate with NHL

Pyeongchang Organising Committee for the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic winter Games (POCOG) president Lee Hee-beom has insisted the NHL ice hockey league is not being “greedy” by preventing its players from competing at next year’s event in the Korean city.

Earlier this week, Lee (pictured) said he was still hopeful that an agreement could be reached whereby NHL players would compete at the Games, despite the league having confirmed last month that it would not be sending its stars to Korea.

The NHL said that “no meaningful dialogue” had materialised between the necessary parties to convince it of the benefits of disrupting its season. The Games are due to take place from February 9-25 next year, halfway through the NHL campaign.

Despite the league’s stance, Lee has not given up hope of there being NHL representation at the Games. In an interview with the Associated Press news agency, he said: “We are ready to cooperate.”

Lee said that he was unaware of the guarantees the NHL is seeking but said: “Whatever they ask – if it is acceptable for us – we will do our best.”

He added: “So far I don’t think they (the NHL) were so … greedy and they didn’t ask too many requests beyond our expectations.”

Should a compromise not be reached, Pyeongchang 2018 would bring an end to a run of five consecutive winter Games with NHL representation.