Gary Bettman said the NHL would be "very comfortable" with not going to Beijing 2022 ©Getty Images

National Hockey League (NHL) commissioner Gary Bettman has said the world's premier ice hockey league would be "very comfortable" with not attending the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.

His comments came after International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) President René Fasel set a deadline of the end of August for the NHL to confirm its involvement.

The league missed Pyeongchang 2018 which meant many top players were denied an Olympic appearance.

IIHF events, including the Winter Olympics, often clash with the NHL season so clubs are unwilling to release their stars.

As well as disrupting the season, insurance and travel costs were cited by the NHL as their main concerns when skipping Pyeongchang.

Costs had previously been covered by the International Olympic Committee but, after they opted to stop paying, no agreement could be reached.

The NHL had previously suspended its campaign to appear at the five previous Winter Olympics, starting at Nagano 1998.

Competing at the Games remains a priority for many players.

"From our standpoint we believe our experience, both of going to five Olympics, and then not going to Pyeongchang, tells us that going is extraordinarily disruptive to the season," said Bettman.

"I know it maintains itself as a priority for the Players' Association, but having said that we're very comfortable with not going."

The participation of top ice hockey players at the Winter Olympics is an ongoing issue  ©Getty Images
The participation of top ice hockey players at the Winter Olympics is an ongoing issue ©Getty Images

It has been suggested that the NHL would want to play at Beijing in order to gain exposure in the lucrative Chinese market.

Fasel set his August deadline after the decision to miss Pyeongchang was made just 10 months before the Games.

The outgoing IIHF head, who will leave his position after 26 years in the role in September, said the worldwide body needed an answer before the final Beijing 2022 qualifier.

He claimed the Pyeongchang withdrawal had a negative impact on the standard of the ice hockey tournament in South Korea and said countries needed to be given time to prepare their squads.

In June, Bettman said he was open to the idea of bringing back the NHL's own international competition, the World Cup of Hockey.

This fits around the NHL season so allows countries to field full-strength sides.

Three editions have been held with a 1996 event in Philadelphia and Montreal preceding Toronto tournaments in 2004 and 2016. 

The tournament is different to the IIHF World Championships.