Garry Betman has said "people should assume" the NHL will not be sending its players to Pyeongchang 2018 ©Getty Images

Gary Bettman, the National Hockey League (NHL) commissioner, has said "people should assume" the league will not be sending its players to the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games.

As it stands, no players from the world's leading league will be officially cleared to participate after negotiations stalled between the NHL, the NHL Players' Association (NHLPA), the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The IOC's decision to stop covering transport and accommodation fees has proved to be a particular stumbling block.

Bettman has accused the IOC of opening a "can of worms" by refusing to pay and claimed earlier this month that there had been "no progress".

“We’re not negotiating publicly,” Bettman told Reuters at the Sport Business Summit in New York.

“The point is I was trying to emphasise the fact that this is terribly disruptive to our business and there seems to be no offsetting way to mitigate that disruption.

“I’ve suggested why don’t you treat us like a top sponsor.

“If they don’t value our participation why are we going.

“There are no negotiations ongoing.

“We were open to having discussions on a variety of things that might mitigate the damage to our season but that had no resonance.

“As things stand now people should assume we are not going.”

The IOC's decision to stop covering transport and accommodation fees has frustrated the NHL ©Getty Images
The IOC's decision to stop covering transport and accommodation fees has frustrated the NHL ©Getty Images

Czech Republic and Philadelphia Flyers player Jakub Voráček is among those to criticise the deadlock in recent weeks, accusing the NHL of taking a "ridiculous" stance.

Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin has vowed to attend regardless of whether he has permission. 

His Russian team-mate Evgeni Malkin, Canada's Patrice Bergeron and United States' David Backes are among others to have expressed willingness to compete.

The NHL are thought to be ambivalent about the prospects of an Olympics in South Korea but keen to exploit the opportunity of the Chinese market during Beijing 2022.

René Fasel, President of the IIHF, has warned that the NHL cannot pick and choose and risk never returning if they opt not attending next year.

"I consider Gary Bettman as a smart person so he knows that not coming here would then put in danger participation in Beijing." Fasel said.

"Actually there is no better platform for the brand like the NHL.

"It [the Olympics] is a strong brand.

"Not using this platform would be a mistake and, as I said I consider him [Bettman] as a very smart person.

"I think its a risk if he's not coming."

NHL players have participated at every edition of the Winter Olympics since Nagano 1998.

It has not always proved easy to reach consensus in the past, with an agreement for Sochi 2014 reached just seven months before the Opening Ceremony.