Sources told both AP and ESPN on Tuesday that the NHL would withdraw its stars from the Olympic Games – despite agreeing last year to participate – because their season has been heavily disrupted by Covid-19 outbreaks and restrictions. US and Canadian athletes are still set to compete in the Games, however.Liu Pengyu, a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in the US, called the diplomatic boycott a “political manipulation and a grave distortion of the spirit of the Olympic Charter,” but added that “no one would care about whether these people come or not.”“No invitation has been extended to US politicians whatsoever, so this ‘diplomatic boycott’ simply comes out of nowhere,” he declared. Follow RT on

The National Hockey League (NHL), which comprises 32 professional ice hockey teams from the United States and Canada, will reportedly withdraw from the upcoming 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, citing Covid-19. An official announcement is expected to be made on Wednesday.“With 50 games already postponed, there was a fear the NHL would be unable to complete a full 82-game season while also taking a break of more than two weeks in February for the Olympics,” AP reported, noting that the NHL and its players are “drawing no direct money from competing at the Winter Games.”

READ MORE: What you need to know about the Beijing Winter Olympics boycotts

It was announced earlier this month that US and Canadian government officials would boycott the upcoming Winter Olympics, citing alleged human rights violations in China.