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The NHL pauses hockey season until after Christmas due to COVID-19 risks

FILE - In this Feb. 15, 2020, file photo, fans pose below the NHL league logo at a display outside Falcon Stadium before an NHL Stadium Series outdoor hockey game between the Los Angeles Kings and Colorado Avalanche, at Air Force Academy, Colo. The NHL announced Friday, Dec. 17, 2021, that it was postponing all games for the Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers through at least next weekend amid worsening COVID-19 test results across the league. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
Fans pose below the NHL logo outside Falcon Stadium at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., in February 2020.

The holiday break is coming early for National Hockey League players.Because of dozens of recent COVID-related game postponements, the league and the National Hockey League Players' Association have agreed to postpone the five remaining scheduled games set for Thursday. The league will now begin its holiday break starting at the end of Tuesday night's games and players will report back to their teams on Dec. 26. But upon return from the holiday break, no individual can enter the facility until they have a negative test result. It's just the latest in a series of cancellations or postponements in the sports world thanks to rising number of COVID-19 cases as the omicron variant surges around the world.As of Saturday morning, there were more than 60 players in COVID-19 protocol in the NHL. Each case has been asymptomatic or mild, according to officials, thanks to all but one player in the league being vaccinated.Over the weekend, the National Football League and the National Basketball Association announced they were postponing several games because of infections among athletes and staff. Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.