Pahor not to attend Olympic Games opening due to pandemic

Ljubljana – President Borut Pahor announced on Wednesday he would not attend the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing on 4 February due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Pahor received Chinese Ambassador to Ljubljana Wang Shunqin today to hand him a letter informing Chinese President Xi Jinping of his decision.

Pahor says in the letter he was very much looking forward to the opening of the Olympic Games and a potential meeting with Xi but decided against attending the ceremony in Beijing on 4 February because of a new and unpredictable wave of Covid infections in Slovenia and the world, the president’s office said.

He expressed hope that after the health crisis calms down he and Xi Jinping would meet sometime this year.

He pointed to two initiatives connecting Slovenia and China. One is an environmental project as part of which a fraction of ice from the Slovenian Triglav glacier travels to the Beijing Olympics to raise awareness about the consequences of global warming.

Pahor said he had become honorary ambassador of the project of the Slovenian Olympic Committee in light of his planned visit to Beijing as part of the Olympics.

The president said he had also been looking forward to travelling to China to discuss another initiative – the setting up of a memorial in Ljubljana this year honouring Slovenian missionary, astronomer and cartographer Ferdinand Avguštin Hallerstein (1703-1774), who worked and died in China.

The Chinese ambassador thanked the president for the reception and his letter, confirming he would forward it to the Chinese president, Pahor’s office said.

The Winter Olympics to be held in Beijing between 4 and 20 February have been strongly marked by the pandemic. However, several countries, including the US, have announced they would boycott the event due to human rights violations in China.