- More than half of China's squad was drafted from overseas
- China started to organize hosting the 2022 Olympics. Winter Olympics One problem began to emerge: they were automatically qualified for the ice-hockey competition but didn't have any teams. How did they solve this problem? You need to start assembling a team of ringers.
They made their debut at Beijing's Games on Thursday. The team was facing the formidable presence of a US team that has been successful in the past. China's roster featured players such as Jeremy Smith, 32, an American-Chinese goaltender from Dearborn, Michigan. He is listed as Jieruimi Shimisi. Jieke Kailiaosi, who was also born Jake Chelios in Chicago, is more well-known.
Nearly half of China's 25 athletes were either born in North America or grew up there. Smith said that he was surprised when he received a call inviting to join a Beijing team that could lead him to an Olympic spot. Smith said to his agent that he was joking and that he would wait for the punchline.
Players can represent their country in the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF). They must have played in that league for at least two years and have been transferred to the new association.
To bond the players and make them eligible for the Games, they were assigned to a Chinese club. In 2016, HC Kunlun Red Star joined the Kontinental Hockey League. This competition features mainly Russian clubs as well as teams from Latvia, Finland, and Belarus. China does not have a professional league. This plan was devised to avoid embarrassment for China on the international stage.
They have failed to do well in six seasons and reached the play-offs just once. They have lost fewer than 40 matches in regulation time over the past three years. The situation became so dire that the International Olympic Committee and IIHF considered dropping China's team out of the Games. They feared they would be overwhelmed. Luc Tardif, president of the IIHF, stated that "watching a team lose 15-0 is not healthy for anyone. Not for China nor for ice hockey."
The move has not been well received by domestic fans. On social media, they have been questioned about their Chinese citizenship and their commitment. One example of a Weibo post included an image of the team, and user kaixinwanmao said, "If you didn’t tell me, this was China’s men’s ice hockey squad."
Covid did however add a twist to the Olympics ice hockey story. China had also seen a significant decline in the US team they faced in their first match. The NHL announced in December that it would no longer send players to the Olympics. Commissioner Gary Bettman stated that it was not possible after the NHL season was disrupted.
After three minutes of the opening period, China almost took a surprise lead in their first ever Winter Olympics match. The US broke the deadlock after 11 minutes. The game went as planned, and the Americans won 8-0.
Sports success may determine whether or not fans will accept athletes from China at these Games of dual heritage. Eileen Gu, a San Francisco native, has won one gold medal already and will compete for two more. She has also been a popular face of the Chinese team at their home Games. She has been repeatedly asked about her citizenship, as China doesn't permit dual nationality. Smith, the goaltender, clarified to Beijing reporters that she had not renounced her citizenship. They never asked me.
Although it may seem unconventional to put together a team this way, it has provided an Olympic opportunity for those who didn't think they would. Brandon Yip, a 36-year old Vancouver native plays right wing for the team. He was last seen in the NHL's top-level NHL in 2014. He joked that he knew he wasn't going to make Team Canada.
The task ahead of the Chinese ice hockey team is not easy after their first defeat by the US. They will be playing against Germany on Saturday, which is ranked fifth, and against Canada on Sunday, which is ranked No 1.
China's ice hockey ringers make their Winter Olympic debut in reality
China's men's soccer team is defeated 8-0 by the United States