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Putin backs China in rejecting Olympic diplomatic boycott

President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that Russia and China shared common values and that both rejected the diplomatic boycott by some Western countries of the 2022 Winter Olympics that open in Beijing on Feb. 4.

The United States, Canada, Australia and Britain have announced they will not send any state officials to the Games because of China's human rights record. China has said these countries will have to pay a price.

Speaking to Russian Olympians during a televised virtual meeting, Putin said Russia and its "Chinese friends" shared an approach to international sport.

"Together (with China) we oppose the politicization of sport and demonstrative boycotts," Putin said. "We support traditional Olympic values: equality and justice first of all."

Putin will fill the void left by foreign dignitaries at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics and will meet his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping while in the Chinese capital.

Russia and China have moved closer together as both have come under increasing pressure from the West - Moscow over its military build-up near its border with Ukraine and Beijing over trade issues and human rights.

At the Beijing Games, which run until Feb. 20, the 212 Russian athletes will be competing as representatives of the Russian Olympic Committee under the acronym "ROC," as they did at the Tokyo Summer Olympics last year.

They will be competing without their flag and anthem because of sanctions to punish Moscow for providing doctored laboratory data to international anti-doping authorities that could have helped identify drug cheats.

Russia was also deprived of its flag at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games in South Korea as punishment for state-sponsored doping at the 2014 Sochi Games. Many Russians were also banned from the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Russia has recognized some flaws in its implementation of anti-doping rules but denies running a state-sponsored doping program.

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