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Beijing: Chinese President Xi Jinping met with President Thomas Bach of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Tuesday in Beijing, the first foreign dignitary Xi has met in person since the Covid-19 pandemic erupted two years ago. The meeting at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse comes days before the official opening of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing on 4th February. 

According to a statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Xi told Bach that China would honour the promise to present to the world simple, safe, and spectacular Olympic games. This is the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic that a comprehensive global sporting event is held as scheduled, the statement quoted Xi as saying. 

China is confident of ensuring the safety of all Games participants, relevant personnel, and the Chinese people, he added. Nearly 3,000 athletes from more than 90 countries are expected to take part in the Winter Olympics.

Xi noted that everything is ready for the Beijing Winter Olympics following more than six years of preparations. Xi said by holding the Games China aims to engage 300 million people in winter sports and it has now become a reality. The 2022 Winter Olympics has also boosted the development of winter sports industry in China, he said. Bach praised the preparation for the Games adding that he is fully confident that the 2022 Winter Olympics will be a safe, smooth and successful event. Ding Xuexiang, Yang Jiechi, Cai Qi, and Wang Yi were present at the meeting. 

President Xi’s last face-to-face meeting with a foreign dignitary was on February 27, 2020, when he met former Mongolia president Khaltmaa Battulga at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. The Chinese leader has not left the country since visiting Myanmar in January 2020. 

The Games has been targeted by various countries and rights groups calling for a diplomatic boycott, citing concerns about China’s human rights record. Covid-19 outbreaks across the country have caused added difficulties to the event organizers.




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