Putin to meet banned Russian Olympians, reveals ski chief
Vladimir Putin will meet the Russian Olympic Committee's (ROC) record-breaking Beijing Winter Olympic Games 2022 team in April, the head of the Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined Federation of Russia has said.
The Russian President had reportedly been scheduled to meet the team, whose total of 32 medals was the most ever won by athletes from the country at the Winter Games, on March 4 – eight days after the start of the attack on Ukraine.
The Ministry of Sports has now told the Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined Federation of Russia that the event will take place on April 6, RIA reported the organization's leader, Dmitry Dubrovsky, as saying.
Putin attended the opening ceremony for the Games on February 4, opting against joining countries including the US and the UK who carried out a diplomatic boycott of the showpiece over alleged human rights abuses by China.
The head of state met was allowed to attend because of an invitation extended by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Restrictions placed on Russia by the World Anti-Doping Agency mean that Putin would not have been allowed to be at the Games without Xi's invitation.
Russian athletes appeared at the Games under the ROC banner because of WADA's ruling, which is set to be lifted at the end of 2022.
The ROC came ninth overall and the team's haul of 32 medals was only beaten by overall winners Norway.
The total comprised six gold medals – including a hat-trick of titles for skier Alexander Bolshunov – as well as 12 silver and 14 bronze honors.
The event were the most high-profile sporting spectacle to take place before almost every major sporting federation took action against Russian athletes as a result of the start of the conflict.
In a statement on March 2, the International Olympic Committee encouraged federations to exile Russian and Belarusian athletes.
After Russians were barred from the Paralympic Games a day before the event started in Beijing on March 4, Putin described the decision as "the height of cynicism".
"It was not just innocent athletes who suffered, but Paralympic athletes – people who did not break down but overcame the most difficult life trials, worthy of all possible support and admiration," he said.
"[They are] those who, by their example, give hope to millions, make them believe in themselves and in their strength."
Double Olympic swimming champion Evgeny Rylov subsequently lost a sponsorship deal with Speedo and came under investigation from the International Swimming Federation over his appearance at a concert attended by Putin in Moscow last week.