President Xi Jinping to attend Sochi Winter Olympic Games opening ceremony

PUBLISHED : Monday, 20 January, 2014, 12:38pm
UPDATED : Monday, 20 January, 2014, 12:38pm

Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in the Russian city of Sochi, the foreign ministry announced on Monday.

The ministry said Xi would be in Russia from February 6-8 for the opening ceremony. It provided no further details.

Xi’s decision to attend is a positive development for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has staked his political prestige on the success of the Olympics, after US President Barack Obama and his German counterpart Joachim Gauck both said they would not travel to Russia for the Games.

To ease fears over possible breaches of security, Putin has ordered safety measures beefed up nationwide after 34 people were killed last month in bombings in Volgograd, another city in southern Russia.

About 37,000 Russian personnel are providing security in the Sochi area.

Russia’s human rights record has also come under close scrutiny with Finland’s Sports Minister Paavo Arhinmaki boycotting the opening ceremony over the country’s “limitations in the freedom of speech or repressing of sexual minorities”.

The Sochi Games will run from February 7-23.