Putin will attend the Beijing Olympics

Russian President Vladimir Putin will travel to Beijing for next year’s Winter Olympics at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

“President Putin is pleased to accept President Xi Jinping’s invitation to attend the Winter Olympics in February 2022,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Tajikistan today.

The 2022 Winter Olympics will be held from February 4 to February 20 in the Chinese capital Beijing and neighboring Hebei province.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks ahead of Russia's parliamentary elections at his residence outside Moscow on September 15.  Photo: AFP.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks ahead of Russia’s parliamentary elections at his residence outside Moscow on September 15. Photo: AFP.

Russian and Chinese officials are in Tajikistan to attend a conference of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). The Russian president originally planned to go to Tajikistan to attend the conference, but had to cancel at the last minute to self-quarantine after many people close to him contracted nCoV.

The highest court in the sports field last year banned Russia from participating in international tournaments for two years, including the Olympics, for alleged doping programs at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. A series of Russian coaches, athletes and security personnel at the time were accused of changing urine samples from doping athletes to clean samples.

More than 1,000 athletes, coaches and sports officials in Russia have been accused of involvement in the matter, leading to a total ban on Russia. Moscow firmly denies the allegation, saying that many countries have “politicized” the sport.

However, some Russian athletes are allowed to compete as neutrals, without using the Russian flag or anthem, if they can prove they have never used doping.

Russian officials, including Putin, are also banned from participating in international tournaments, unless invited by the head of state of the host country. Lavrov said he hoped President Putin and President Xi Jinping could meet face-to-face and that the Russian and Chinese athletes “will once again demonstrate their sportsmanship and noble personal qualities”.

More than 300 Russian athletes participated in the last Tokyo Olympics as neutral athletes. They brought home 20 gold medals, ranking fifth in the medal standings.

Huyen Le (Follow AFP)

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