Russian President Vladimir Putin has accepted an invitation from Chinese leader Xi Jinping to attend next year’s Winter Olympics in Beijing. Putin would be banned from the event unless invited by Xi.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov revealed the news after a meeting with Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in the capital of Tajikistan, Dushanbe, on Thursday.
President Vladimir Putin gladly accepted Xi Jinping’s invitation to attend the Beijing Winter Olympics in February 2022,”said, Lavrov.
We hope that a summit can be held in person [between Putin and Xi] and that Chinese and Russian athletes will once again prove their highest athletic and personal qualities,” Laurov added. The Winter Games will be held in Beijing from February 4 to 22.
Just as at the recent Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Russian athletes will be forced to compete under neutral status due to a ban from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) for allegedly tampering with data at a Moscow laboratory.
The initial WADA ruling in 2019 slapped a four-year ban on Russia from major international competitions, but that was reduced to two years on appeal by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and will now expire in December of next year.
However, one proviso is that the order “does not apply to a Government Representative who is invited to a specified event by the Head of State or Prime Minister.
Competing under the banner of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC), Russian athletes in Tokyo picked up 71 medals in total – including 20 gold – which was good enough for them to finish fifth in the overall rankings.
Putin recently hosted Russia’s returning Olympic and Paralympic medalists in special ceremonies at the Kremlin, praising their achievements in the face of difficulties including “politicized decisions.