Beijing 2022: Putin tells Xi he will attend Winter Olympics

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Intl desk, Dec 16: Russian president Vladimir Putin has pledged to attend the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, making him one of the first major world leaders to indicate his attendance.

His remarks came in a video call with Chinese President Xi Jinping, who said he looked forward to a “get-together”.

It comes as a growing number of countries have joined a diplomatic boycott of the Games.

This is due to alleged human rights abuses in China, which Beijing denies.

“I would like to point out that we always support each other when it comes to international sports cooperation, including our position against attempts to politicise sports and the Olympic Movement,” said Mr Putin in comments carried by state-owned media outlet The Global Times.

China has been accused of genocide in its repression of the predominantly Muslim Uyghur minority in Xinjiang – an allegation it has repeatedly rejected.

China’s suppression of political freedoms in Hong Kong and concerns for Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai, who was not seen in public for weeks after she accused a top government official of sexual assault in November are also among the diplomatic issues that have arisen.

The US, UK and Australia and Canada have said their high-level officials will not be attending the winter Games, which will take place in February, as a result.

However, athletes from these countries will still be in attendance.

China has taken aim at countries joining the diplomatic boycott, saying they would “pay the price for their mistaken acts”.

“The United States, Britain and Australia have used the Olympics platform for political manipulation,” Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson at the Chinese foreign ministry, said.

On Thursday, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida also added that he had no plans to attend the Games at the moment.

Russia under Mr Putin has forged extensive economic, military and scientific ties with China.

Source: BBC