Swedish goaltender Lehner to skip Beijing Games due to mental health issues

December 1, 2021; Anaheim, California, USA; Vegas Golden Knights goalkeeper Robin Lehner (90) defended the goal against the Anaheim Ducks during the second half at Honda Center. Mandatory credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports / File Photo

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(Reuters) – Sweden goalkeeper Robin Lehner will miss next year’s Winter Olympics in Beijing after the 30-year-old said on Monday that his participation would not be ideal for his mental health.

Lehner, who plays for the Vegas Golden Knights in the National Hockey League, said it was a tough decision for him to skip the Olympics, which he described as “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Under its “zero COVID” policy, China has what is considered to be among the strictest COVID-19 prevention measures in the world.

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The Games will be played without foreign spectators and with all athletes and associated personnel in a “closed loop”, subject to daily COVID-19 testing.

“The truth is, what has been said about how it would be is not ideal for my mental health,” Lehner said. Twitter.

“I took so long to make (the decision) with my psychiatrist and my family. My well-being has to come first and I’m on lockdown and I don’t know what happens if I test positive is too risky for me.”

Lehner had been expected to compete with Jacob Markstrom for a place in Sweden’s starting line-up after two-time Olympic medalist Henrik Lundqvist retired earlier this year.

Sweden twice won the gold medal in the men’s ice hockey event at the Olympics – in 1994 and 2006. They were eliminated in the quarter-finals in PyeongChang in 2018.

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Additional reporting by Manasi Patak in Bengaluru; Editing by Rohit Nair

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