It doesn’t rank as a big surprise, but Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed Wednesday he won’t be honoring President Biden’s call for a “diplomatic boycott” of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing.
During a warm, hourlong video chat with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Mr. Putin praised the state of bilateral relations and said he looks forward to traveling to China in February for the opening ceremony of the Games.
Mr. Putin added that he expects the Games to come off smoothly because the Chinese organizers “know how to do it,” according to a readout of the meeting by the Russian TASS news service.
Mr. Biden last week confirmed that no U.S. officials would be attending the Beijing Games, citing what he said was China’s poor human rights record, its harsh treatment of the ethnic Muslim Uyghur population in Xinjiang and its aggressive policies in the region.
U.S. athletes would still be allowed to compete in the Games, Mr. Biden said.
To date, only a few close allies — Canada, Britain and Australia among them — have said they plan to follow the U.S. lead on a modified boycott, while other countries, including France, Argentina and South Korea, have already rejected the idea.
Mr. Xi reportedly responded to Mr. Putin‘s remarks that he, too, looked forward to an “Olympic meeting” between the two leaders in February.
The two leaders have grown closer in the face of rising tensions in both countries with Washington. The Chinese media reported Wednesday that the virtual talk was the second for Mr. Putin and Mr. Xi this year and their 37th meeting since 2013.