Visits will be paid to both the Kwandong and Gangneung Hockey Centres.

Top players from the world’s leading league have appeared at every edition of the Games since their debut at Nagano 1998, but discussions have stalled in the last year after the IOC reduced the amount of financial support they were prepared to offer.

IIHF President René Fasel admitted to insidethegames in April how reaching a deal was “even more difficult” than before, and claimed during the recent World Cup of Hockey that prospects remained “50-50”.

He admitted that the “situation is still very difficult” during this month’s Coordination Commission visit, where he had also claimed that just the Players’ Association would visit this week rather than the NHL.

NHL officials also said they were “more negative” following meetings at last month’s World Cup of Hockey in Toronto.

Others, however, remain optimistic considering there is still a broad desire to participate among almost all parties.

“We consider this a big step forward ahead of the January 15 deadline to find an agreement,” said IOC Olympic Games executive director Christophe Dubi when announcing the inspection.

It is still not clear who will foot the transportation and insurance expenses, which Fasel estimates will come to around $10 million (£7 million/€9 million) due to the long flights involved.

The Swiss official suggested in Toronto, however, that he will personally lobby the sporting and ice hockey community in order to raise costs himself.