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NHL star withdraws from Beijing Olympics due to Covid restrictions that could harm mental health – RT Sport News

Vegas Golden Nights goaltender Robin Lehner has withdrawn from the Swedish ice hockey team ahead of the February Winter Olympics in Beijing, saying concerns about a Covid lockdown are ” not ideal “for his sanity.

Longtime NHL loyalist Lehner, 30, announced his decision to skip the event on Twitter, something he said was a tough decision and let a “slip up”the opportunity of a lifetime“but admitted that his worries and uncertainties over China’s strict Covid-19 protocols weighed heavily on his mind.

China is currently operating under a so-called ‘Zero Covid’ policy and has put in place comprehensive security guidelines ahead of the Games. Events will take place without foreign spectators, while athletes will have to remain in a “closed loop” and undergo mandatory daily testing for Covid-19.

Unvaccinated athletes will be required to enter a period of self-isolation for 21 days after arriving in the country.

Amid concerns about what might happen if he is positive at Beijing, Lehner says he had little choice but to step down from the selection.

“I must answer that I will not go to the Olympics”, he wrote on Twitter. “I am very disappointed and it is a difficult decision for me because it is a unique opportunity.

“The reality is that what has been said about how this is going to turn out is not ideal for my mental health.

“It took me a long time to make a decision with my psychiatrist and my family. My well-being has to come first and be locked in and not knowing what happens if you test positive is too risky for me.

“Sweden will have a great team and Markstrom is a beast. I hope people will understand. “

Lehner is a well-known mental health advocate and has spoken openly about his past struggles with bipolar disorder.

He was expected to compete for a place in the Swedish squad with compatriot Jacob Markstrom after the retirement of the previous holder, two-time Olympic medalist Henrik Lundqvist.

Sweden won gold twice in 1994 and 2006 and were eliminated in the quarterfinals in Pyeongchang in 2018.

Lehner has been one of the NHL’s leading voices on mental health wellness, criticizing the playoff “bubble” created by the league in 2020.

He also criticized the league’s restrictions on players vaccinated last season, saying mental health needs to be boosted. “important in this situation as well.”


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