International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) President René Fasel has set a deadline of the end of August for the National Hockey League (NHL) to confirm whether it will release its players to compete at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing.
According to The Canadian Press, Fasel said the IIHF needs a decision before the final Olympic ice hockey qualifier in late August.
The outgoing IIHF head, who will leave his position after 26 years in the role in September, said the worldwide body would not wait as long for the NHL as it did prior to the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang.
The NHL announced just 10 months before Pyeongchang 2018 that it would deny players the opportunity to take part in the ice hockey tournament because of insurance, transportation and housing cost issues.
The NHL had shut down for the previous five Winter Olympics, starting for Nagano 1998, so the players could represent their countries.
Confirmation of the NHL decision followed months of discussions between the IIHF, NHL and the International Olympic Committee over the presence of players from the league at the Games.
Talks have been held regarding participation at Beijing 2022, but the signs appear ominous for the IIHF as NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has barely wavered from his belief that the Olympics are too disruptive, despite NHL players wanting to take part.
Fasel said the NHL refusing to allow its players to compete at Pyeongchang 2018 had a negative affect on the standard of the ice hockey tournament at the Games, won by the "Olympic Athletes from Russia" team.
"We would like to have a decision as early as possible if they're coming to Beijing - 'Yes' or 'No'," Fasel said.
"In Pyeongchang there was a late 'No'.
"Especially the North American teams, US and Canada, had some problems to find the players and to build up a good team.
"If there is a 'No', these teams should have time to prepare a competitive team to go to the Olympics in 2022.
"We want to have an early answer from NHL Players Association (NHLPA) and NHL if they're coming or not.
"We are working on an early decision made by the NHL and NHLPA."