MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia’s Olympic Committee chief said on Thursday the country did not support the diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics by some Western countries, denouncing the move as pointless.
The United States, Canada, Australia and Britain announced they would not send any state officials to the Games in February because of China’s human rights record. China has said these countries would have to pay a price.
“From (a) sports point of view, these measures are absolutely pointless,” Stanislav Pozdnyakov, president of the Russian Olympic Committee, told reporters.
“These measures are exclusively of a political nature … We really hope that they will not cast a shadow over the Games.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to attend the Feb. 4-20 Beijing Olympics after receiving an invitation from China.
“Our head of state will be present and this will be an additional motivating factor for all members of the Russian Olympic Committee team,” Pozdnyakov said.
Russian athletes are barred from competing at major international events under their flag and with their anthem as part of doping sanctions that end in December 2022.
In Beijing, Russians will compete as representatives of the Russian Olympic Committee under the acronym “ROC”.
(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Ken Ferris)