China’s Embassy in Riyadh welcomed Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who will be attending the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Beijing on February 4, according to a post on the embassy’s Twitter account.
The embassy also said it hopes this visit will “promote the development of the global Olympic field and the development of Sino-Saudi comprehensive strategic relations.”
The Beijing Winter Olympics kick off in one week, putting sports at center-stage following preparations that have been clouded by diplomatic boycotts and the COVID-19 pandemic that has forced the Games into a tightly sealed bubble.
Beijing will become the first city to host both the Summer and Winter Games, and some venues from 2008 will be re-used, including the Bird’s Nest stadium, where the opening ceremony will again be overseen by famed Chinese director Zhang Yimou.
Almost everything else is different.
Where the 2008 Summer Games dazzled in what was a considered China’s arrival on the world stage, the Winter Olympics will be staged by a country that has grown far wealthier, more powerful and, under President Xi Jinping, more authoritarian and increasingly at odds with the West.
In the COVID-19 era, China has isolated itself with a zero-tolerance policy, cancelling nearly all international flights, meaning Olympic athletes and others must fly directly into a Games bubble on charters.