Putin condemns ‘attempts to politicize sports’ during call with Chinese leader Xi
Russian President Vladimir Putin has told his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, that China "knows how to do it" ahead of what he expects to be a Winter Olympics "held at the highest level" in Beijing,
The Games, which run in February, have become embroiled in an international row after the Biden administration confirmed last week that the US will be conducting a diplomatic boycott of the showpiece.
Other nations including Britain and Canada have since followed suit because of their concerns over purported human rights abuses in China, including the alleged forced labor and sterilization of Uyghurs in the north of the country.
That has led to warnings by China of repercussions over the boycotts. Now Putin, who has accepted an invitation from Xi to attend the Games which will allow him to avoid a ban imposed as the result of a World Anti-Doping Agency ruling on Russia, has said he expects the event to succeed.
Putin promised Xi to attend Olympic Games and support China in "non-politicization of sports". Expects personal meeting with Xi in Beijing— Liveuamap (@Liveuamap) December 15, 2021
“I have no doubt that the upcoming Winter Olympic Games will be held at the highest level," Putin said during a video meeting with Xi, who called the Russian leader an "old friend".
"China knows how to do it. [This includes] the rejection of any attempts to politicize sports and the Olympic movement."
French leader Emmanuel Macron has described the impact of diplomatic boycotts as "questionable", and Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg said on Monday: “Politicizing sporting events like the Winter Olympics does not seem useful to me."
Putin and Xi clearly agree with those views. "I hope that next February we will finally be able to meet in person in Beijing," Putin told Xi, describing him as a "friend" and "distinguished".
"As agreed, we will hold negotiations with you, then we will participate in the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games."
Putin said he was grateful for an invitation to attend the opening ceremony that he initially revealed he intended to accept while speaking at a business summit at the end of November.
He also noted a close sporting link between the countries and called their overall relations "a true model of interstate cooperation for the 21st century".
“The close co-ordination between Russia and China on the international arena – the responsible joint approach to solving urgent global issues – has become a stabilizing factor in international affairs," he said.
The talks came a week after Putin spoke to US president Biden about the current situation between Russia and Ukraine. A Kremlin spokesman said Putin intends to discuss the topic with Xi as "allies".