Talks over whether National Hockey League (NHL) players will participate at the Pyeongchang 2018 have not yet been scheduled, International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) President René Fasel revealed, but claims the return of the sport's World Cup in 2016 will not impact negotiations.
Fasel, the Swiss dentist and International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board member, who has led the IIHF since 1994, was instrumental in the landmark deal which allowed NHL players to compete for the first time at the Olympics in Nagano in 1998 and all subsequent Games.
But there has been no clear progress in negotiations towards participation here, despite the Games being less than three years away.
"We have not yet arranged when we are going to have talks," Fasel admitted to insidethegames during a venue tour here he is attending as part of the IOC Coordination Commission, which began a fourth inspection visit today.
"It is high season so everybody is very busy, but we are working on it."
No final deal was signed for NHL players to participate at the last Games in Sochi until July 2013 - just seven months before the beginning of competition - so the three-year window is not an immediate concern.
Yet, the added constraints of a time difference of at least 13 hours from North America has reportedly created added pressure.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly claimed earlier this year they are waiting for details from both the IOC and South Korean organisers before beginning negotiations
In January it was also confirmed that the NHL-organised World Cup of Hockey will return in 2016 following a 12-year absence.
The tournament, last won by Canada in 2004, is scheduled to run from September 17 to October 1 in Toronto, and will involve eight teams featuring the best hockey players from around the world.
Although this will be just before the start of the NHL season, some have speculated that having two major international events involving the league's top players within a relatively small 17-month time-frame may be difficult.
But Fasel insisted the event is a "separate product" which will have "no affect at all" on negotiations.
Fasel claimed he remains confident players from the sport's highest profile league will ultimately compete, adding, "it is my job to work this out and I have been doing it for 20 years".
Both proposed ice hockey venues - the Gangneung and Kwandong Ice Hockey Centres - were among venues inspected today by Fasel and his Coordination Commission colleagues, with construction at both due to be completed by the autumn of 2016.
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March 2015: Ice hockey qualification processes for Pyeongchang 2018 announced
February 2014: It would be "boring" without negotiations with NHL over Olympic participation, admits IIHF chief
July 2013: NHL players to compete at Sochi 2014 Olympics
July 2013: Deal to free players for Sochi 2014 will be agreed "very soon" says NHL commissioner
June 2013: NHL Commissioner hopeful of "figuring out" deal for Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics