President Sisi heads to China to attend opening ceremony of Beijing Winter Olympics

Ahram Online , Thursday 3 Feb 2022

Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi left for China on Thursday morning to attend the opening ceremony of the 24th edition of the Beijing Winter Olympics, which will take place on Friday.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi (R) and Chinese President Xi Jinping

“The president’s participation in this huge global sporting event comes at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping in light of the firm and strategic relations linking Egypt and China,” Presidential Spokesperson Bassam Rady said in a statement on Thursday.

During the visit, El-Sisi will hold a summit with his Chinese counterpart to discuss bilateral relations, which have witnessed a qualitative leap at all levels over the past years in a way that achieves the mutual interests of the two countries and their peoples.

The two leaders will also continue consultations and mutual coordination on a number of regional and international issues of mutual concern, the spokesperson added.

The 2022 Olympics — the first-ever Winter Olympics to be held in China and its second Olympics in total after hosting the 2008 games — is scheduled to last until 20 February under strict coronavirus measures.

More than 2,900 athletes from 92 countries will be participating in the games, according to the figures available on the official Olympics website.

Athletes will compete in 109 medal events across 15 sports, which are alpine skiing, bobsledding, biathlon, luge, skeleton, ice hockey, figure skating, speed skating, short track speed skating, curling, freestyle skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, ski jumping, and Nordic.

On 24 January, Egypt celebrated the incoming Beijing Winter Olympics by lighting up the historic Cairo Tower with the slogans ‘Beijing 2022’ and ‘See you in Beijing’ in Arabic, English and Chinese, in the attendance of Chinese Ambassador to Egypt Liao Liqiang.

The Cairo Tower also played the official song of the Beijing Winter Olympics 'Together for a shared future'.

At the celebration, Sherif El-Erian, the secretary-general of the Egyptian Olympic Committee, stressed that "Egypt supports China in hosting the Winter Olympics and wishes it success."

Some countries have announced the diplomatic boycott of the Beijing games over alleged human rights abuses, including the US, UK, and Canada. These countries will be sending their athletes but not their officials or diplomats.

Additionally, other countries have announced that they will not be participating in the games at all due to concerns over the coronavirus, including Sweden, the Netherlands, and New Zealand.

Egypt and China: A history of diplomacy and cooperation

Last year, Egypt and China marked the 65th anniversary of the establishment of Egyptian-Chinese diplomatic ties.

Egypt was the first African and Arab state to establish diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China.

In July, El-Sisi vowed in a message to the Chinese president on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC) to push Egyptian-Chinese ties towards “broader” prospects.

The Egyptian president went on his first official visit to China in 2014 to elevate the relations between the two countries to a comprehensive strategic partnership, signing multiple deals for cooperation on economic, defence, and counterterrorism issues.

Xi also visited Egypt in 2016 to sign numerous investment and aid deals worth billions of dollars in major sectors, including electricity, transportation, and infrastructure.

Furthermore, Egypt was one of the first countries to join the Belt and Road Initiative, which was launched by the Chinese government in 2013 with the objective of investing in dozens of countries and international bodies.

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, Egypt has imported millions of doses of the Chinese Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines. 

Egypt has also started manufacturing the Sinovac vaccine after signing agreements with the Chinese company in April last year.

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