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Putin to open Winter Olympics in Sochi, meet foreign leaders

February 07, 2014, 1:11 UTC+3 SOCHI

The Olympic flame will be lit during the ceremony, but it won’t be done by Putin

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© ITAR-TASS/Valery Sharifulin

SOCHI, February 07, 0:47 /ITAR-TASS/. President Vladimir Putin will open the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi on Friday, February 7.

The ceremony will begin at Sochi’s Fisht Stadium, at 20:14 Moscow time. Putin will address the athletes and guests and then declare the Games open. 

The Olympic flame will be lit during the ceremony, but it won’t be done by Putin. “I am not a representative of winter sports,” the head of state said earlier, adding that there were many internationally known athletes who deserved to carry out this mission.

Before the opening ceremony, Putin will give an official reception for world leaders attending the Games. More than 40 heads of state and government are expected to arrive in Sochi for the occasion. Overall, about 60 foreign leaders plan to attend the Olympic and Paralympic events in Sochi.

Putin spoke at the 126th session of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) this week, where he had an opportunity to meet its members.

On February 5, he visited the coastal Olympic Village, took part in the welcoming ceremony for the delegation of the Russian Olympic Committee and attended the flag hoisting ceremony. He also talked with athletes and took a tour of the Olympic Village.

On February 6, the Russian president had talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping. 

He is also scheduled to meet with Tajik President Emomali Rahmon, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev, and several foreign leaders.

Putin may meet with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. The two presidents last met on January 8.

Meetings with the Turkish and Dutch prime ministers have been confirmed.

Putin and Erdogan last met in St. Petersburg in November 2013. They discussed trade, economic and humanitarian cooperation between the two countries, including the implementation of strategic energy projects, such as the Turkish nuclear power plant Akkuyu and South Stream gas pipeline.

Putin and Rutte met in June 2013 in St. Petersburg on the sidelines of the International Economic Forum. In November he met with King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands who had arrived in Russia to attend the closing ceremony of the crossover Years of Culture.

The central event of the trip will be the official opening of the Olympic Games to begin at 20:14 Moscow time on February 7. Some 40,000 people will attend the ceremony at the Fisht Stadium and more than three billion will watch it on television. Over 40 heads of state and government will be present at the opening ceremony in Sochi, to be preceded by an official reception to be given by the Russian president.

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