Vladimir Putin Pretends To Be Asleep As Ukraine Winter Olympic Team Enter Beijing Stadium During Opening Ceremony
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The Russian President, who currently has a large military force gathered on the border with Ukraine, closed his eyes and sat with his arms folded across his lap whilst the team from Russia’s neighbour entered the arena.
Putin was also pictured not wearing a mask, despite every other person in the VIP area covering their face.
The Winter Olympics in Beijing, the first city to stage both a summer and winter edition of the games, have been plagued by controversy, but until now it had largely centred on the country hosting the event.
Despite the criticism China has faced from human rights groups and other countries, Chinese President Xi Jinping was unsurprisingly given a standing ovation as he entered the arena ahead of the ceremony, during which around 3,000 performers took part.
Xi has been one of few world leaders to defend Putin’s actions over the conflict with Ukraine.
He signed a document that condemned America for its perceived influence in Europe, the expansion of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) and the US government’s ‘negative impact on peace and stability’ in the Asia-Pacific region.
There was more controversy as the athletes competing from Taiwan were announced in the stadium as ‘Chinese Taipei’.
Taiwan has long held itself to be a self-governing and sovereign nation, but China views the small Asian country as a breakaway state and has threatened to ‘unify’ Taiwan with China through military force.
Putin was amongst a small handful of foreign dignitaries and world leaders that attended the impressive opening ceremony, with most staying away due to concerns over China’s record on human rights, as well as their persecution of Uyghur Muslims in the eastern province of Xinjiang.
Athletes from the countries with leaders that have boycotted have still attended the games.
A ‘select’ group of supporters and guests were allowed into the stadium for the opening ceremony due to strict Covid-19 restrictions, as China is still pursuing a ‘zero Covid’ strategy.
The general public in China are subject to heavy fines and even arrests for failure to wear a mask, and nearly 100 percent of people obey that rule.
Even President Xi was seen wearing a face covering as he watched the ceremony.
The games will unfold over the next 17 days, with 109 gold medals set to be handed out.