Robin Lehner declines Olympic opportunity, won’t play for Team Sweden

Source: Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner revealed on Sunday that he will not participate in the upcoming Beijing Olympics in Team Sweden’s quest for its third gold medal.

Lehner, who has been refreshingly open about his struggles with bipolar disorder and other mental health disparities, is citing a meeting with his psychiatrist where the two decided it would be in Lehner’s best interests to not participate in the Beijing Olympics.

The 30-year-old has become a leading figure for mental health advocacy among NHL players in recent years, anchored by his “#SameHere” hashtag. In 2018, Lehner disclosed that along with bipolar disorder, he was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder while battling alcoholism and an addiction to sleeping pills.

After entering a rehabilitation center during the 2018 offseason, Lehner has been proudly sober for almost four years. Through sobriety and personal growth, Lehner has found a home in Vegas, though his mental health is obviously still something he keeps among his top priorities.

“For health reasons, me and my psychiatrist decided with agents that I’m not going to go and I wish them all the best,” Robin Lehner said when asked about the Olympics and Team Sweden after a 23-save performance in the Golden Knights’ 3-2 win over the Calgary Flames on Sunday night. He then took to Twitter to further discuss his decision.

This year’s Olympics stand to be very unique from any that have happened in the past. Under its “zero-COVID” policy, China has had what many consider to be among the world’s strictest COVID-19 prevention measures. The Games will be played without foreign spectators and with all athletes and related personnel contained in a “closed-loop,” subject to daily testing for COVID-19.

In the event of a positive test during the Games, athletes will not be allowed to compete and will quarantine in self-isolation or in a “designated hospital space,” based on symptom status. The NHL has until January 10, 2022 to opt-out of the Olympics without a financial penalty.

Should the NHL and NHLPA decide to allow their players to compete in Beijing, Lehner was expected to be the starting goaltender for the Swedish hockey team. The role is now expected to belong to Calgary Flames goalie Jacob Markström, though other goalies on Sweden’s radar include Linus Ullmark of the Boston Bruins and Anton Forsberg of the Ottawa Senators.

The Beijing Winter Olympics are scheduled to begin on February 3, 2022.

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