Beijing Olympics: Vladimir Putin ‘falls asleep’ during opening ceremony

The Russian president apparently nodded off as the Ukrainian team walked in

Eleanor Sly
Friday 04 February 2022 19:26
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Putin appears to fall asleep during Ukraine section of Olympics opening ceremony
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Russian president Vladimir Putin seemed to fall asleep at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics.

Mr Putin was caught on camera napping during the parade of nations, and awkwardly seemed to be dozing when athletes from Ukraine marched into Beijing’s National Stadium, also known as the Bird’s Nest.

Cameras caught the Russian leader slumping in his chair with his eyes flitting as if he had just awoken from a sleep.

Mr Putin acknowledges the Russian Olympic Committee team during the opening ceremony

It was not great timing given the uncertain relations between Ukraine and Russia at the moment, with Russia reportedly having more than 100,000 troops stationed on their shared border.

Mr Putin was, however, wide awake by the time the Russian Olympic Committee arrived and he stood and gestured to the Russian athletes as they marched around the stadium.

The Russian president was attending the games in spite of Russia’s supposed absence from the Winter Olympics. The International Olympic Committee banned the country for four years from 2019, due to widespread doping violations and a state-sanctioned cover-up.

Chinese support for Moscow is growing in its ongoing dispute with Ukraine

The ban means that Russian athletes are prohibited from competing under their flag or hearing their national anthem played at the games. Instead, the Russian athletes are competing as the Russian Olympic Committee, or ROC.

However, despite the sanctions, the nation’s representatives were wearing Russia’s white, blue, and red flag on their sleeves during Friday’s ceremony.

Although Russia is banned from competing at the Olympics, Putin arrived to support ROC athletes

The Russian leader’s presence at the Olympics makes him the highest-profile guest there after the US, Britain and other countries decided not to send officials in protest over China’s human rights abuses and treatment of the Uyghur people.

Mr Putin’s visit to China comes amid growing Chinese support for Moscow in its ongoing dispute with Ukraine.

As well as attending the games, the Russian president has met with China’s president, Xi Jinping, for the first time since 2019, as China and Russia increasingly align their foreign policies.

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