China’s winter sports push continues with arrival of professional ice hockey franchise in the capital.
Russian President Vladimir Putin arrives in Beijing this weekend and is set to sign around 30 new deals with Chinese President Xi Jinping, but the most interesting of all from a sporting perspective will be fresh details about Beijing’s new franchise in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), Russia’s answer to the NHL.
The most important Russian to China right now is not Vladimir Putin, but it’s a man who knows him very well: Alexander Zhukov. That’s because he has just been appointed head of the evaluation commission for the 2022 Winter Games. In other words, he is leading the team that will select the host city.
Waxworks in China can either be good – like this one of Li Na in Wuhan – or very, very bad – like this one of Vladimir Putin in Fuzhou. Fortunately, Madame Tussauds’ latest creation of swimmer Ye Shiwen falls into the former category and gets a solid 8 out of 10 on the official China Sports Insider waxometer.
With several high prominent western leaders boycotting the Sochi Olympics, it was of even more importance to Russia and the IOC that Chinese President Xi Jinping attended the opening ceremony. In an official press release about the first ever IOC President’s dinner, Xi was mentioned in the same breath as Russian President Vladimir Putin, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Karolos Papoulias, President of Greece (home of the Olympics). All other attendees were listed further down the release, showing the importance of Xi’s presence.
A brief departure from China for this week’s Sports Talk column to discuss one of the best – and most unusual – sport stories of the year: the non-Fellowship of the Ring. It turns out this story made news at the time eight years ago, with media asking back then if it Putin had stolen it. Kraft stuck to the script, but, eight years later, is apparently fed up and wants the ring back. Putin has since insisted through a spokesman it had always been a gift. It’s hardly a case for the ICC, but it will be interesting to see if there are any further developments. Here’s the piece:
It’s been a good week for unexpected sports stories.