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31 Dec, 2021 13:52

Putin makes Olympics prediction in new year message to Xi

Putin makes Olympics prediction in new year message to Xi

Russian president Vladimir Putin has addressed Chinese leader Xi Jinping in a new year message reaffirming his intention to be at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics

In a telegram issued to numerous world leaders, the Kremlin said Russia and China had "interacted very productively" despite the "difficulties" of the pandemic.

The announcement reflected on "record indicators in trade" as a result of a political dialogue between the countries based on long-held scientific and technical links and joint innovation.

Putin would not be allowed to attend the Winter Olympic Games in China in February as part of World Anti-Doping Agency sanctions on Russia which forbid government officials and representatives from attending major events.

That rule can be dropped, though, if a head of state of a host country of an event has issued an invitation to attend.

While countries including the US and the UK are carrying out a diplomatic boycott of the Games, Xi – whose administration has frequently claimed that the nations shunning the spectacle would not have been welcome anyway – has invited Putin to be there.

Reaffirming his acceptance of the offer, Putin said: "I have no doubt that our Chinese friends will ensure the successful organization of the Winter Olympics. I look forward to our meeting at the opening ceremony of this sports festival."

When it was initially announced in September that Putin would "gladly" attend the Games, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the hope was for an in-person summit between the leaders.

The latest Kremlin announcement noted that the countries have addressed key regional and international issues together. It also said that a year of co-operation in physial culture and sport between Russia and China "would be implemented with full dedication".

The White House confirmed in early December that it would not be sending officials to the Games in a stand against "ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang".

The Biden administration has made clear its opposition to alleged human rights abuses in China that are widely thought to include the detainment of around a million Uyghur Muslims. Putin addressed Biden in his messages to leaders, saying he is "convinced" that the countries "can move forward and establish an effective Russian-American dialogue based on mutual respect and consideration of each other’s national interests."