Xi Jinping attended the 22nd Winter Olympic Games opening ceremony after arriving to Sochi on January 6 at the invitation of his pal Vladimir Putin. China’s president stood up and waved like a proud mother to his country’s athletes who were led into the stadium by figure skater and flagbearer Tong Jian during the athletes parade.
Russia was Xi’s first foreign destination of the new year, and his appearance at the Olympic opening ceremony marks the first attendance by a Chinese president at a major overseas sports event, Xinhua reports:
On Thursday, Xi met Putin for talks on bilateral relations as the two leaders reviewed the achievements in the China-Russia ties in the past year, made strategic plans for the bilateral cooperation in the new year and reached important consensuses on the strategic coordination on major international and regional issues.
China sent a 138-member delegation including 65 athletes to the first ever winter Olympics held in Russia. The Chinese athletes will compete in alpine skiing, freestyle skiing, cross-country skiing, biathlon, speed skating, short track speed skating, figure skating, snowboard and curling.
Before the opening ceremony, Xi also gave what appears to be a lively pep talk to China’s athletes and coaches, extending his best wishes ahead of the Games.
“The Chinese people are paying great attention to you,” he told the delegates, who traveled to Sochi during the Spring Festival.
China has won nine gold, 18 silver and 17 bronze medals since its winter Olympic debut in 1980 and holds a 5-2-4 record in the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
The country came in third at a figure skating team event that kicked off before the Games on Thursday. Pictured below is Peng Cheng and Zhang Hao competing during the Team Pairs Short Program.
Go, go, go!