News report

Xi to meet leaders of Serbia and Egypt

BEIJING – The latest on the Beijing Winter Olympics:

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Chinese leader Xi Jinping will meet his Egyptian and Serbian counterparts on the sidelines of the Beijing Winter Olympics, state broadcaster CCTV said.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi and Serbian Aleksandar Vucic are among about a dozen world leaders who attended the opening ceremony on Friday evening.

Xi met the Russian President Vladimir Putin before the opening.

Egypt’s ties with China have grown stronger, especially during the pandemic. There are signs that their worldviews are increasingly aligning, as el-Sisi seeks to distance himself from Western leaders who worry about his human rights record.

Vucic has close ties with China, which has become one of the main investors in Serbia. He called Xi his “brother” at the start of the pandemic for supplying Serbia with ventilators and vaccines. Opposition officials have warned of a lack of transparency in Vucic’s deals with China, including large loans for building roads, highways and factories.

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The third and final men’s alpine skiing training session at the Beijing Games has been canceled due to high winds.

Organizers say they made the decision “in the best interest of safety”.

The start of the second training session had to be delayed on Friday because of the wind. Organizers said on Saturday there was no window in the forecast that would allow them to push back the third session rather than cancel it.

Only three skiers started, including one of the favourites, Aleksander Aamodt Kilde from Norway.

The best skiers in the world only saw the Rock course up close for the first time on Thursday as test events have been canceled for the past two years amid the pandemic.

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The men’s downhill opens the alpine competition on Sunday.

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Ukrainian figure skater Ivan Shmuratko cleared COVID-19 protocols by returning two negative tests on consecutive days. This allows him to start preparing for the men’s individual competition which begins on Tuesday.

It was a day too late for his team, however. The Ukrainians scored no points for the men’s discipline in the team competition on Friday because Shmuratko was still following protocols, excluding them from the medal chase.

the team competition resumes on Sunday with the women’s short program. Then the top five nations will move on to the free skate, which begins with the men later in the day. The event wraps up with the women’s, pairs and free dance skates on Monday.

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China’s National Health Commission said new nationwide COVID-19 cases in China have fallen to single digits, easing fears of a new outbreak that could disrupt the Winter Olympics for now.

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The commission says nine cases were reported in 24 hours, including just one in Beijing.

The Beijing case was in the western district of Fengtai, far from the Olympic venues which were sealed in a bubble with gates and fences to prevent contact between athletes, officials and other participants inside and the General public.

Chinese officials credit a strict “zero tolerance” policy for keeping case numbers down through lockdowns and mass testing, even when only a small number of cases are reported.

The commission on Saturday reported 18 more cases among people who had traveled from overseas, as well as 60 imported asymptomatic cases.

As of Thursday, a total of 308 people associated with the Olympics had tested positive since January 23, including athletes, officials and workers at the Games. Nearly 12,000 people arrived in Beijing from outside China for the Olympics.

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Canadian hockey forward Melodie Daoust will not play against Finland at the Olympics and is listed on a daily basis with an upper body injury.

Director of hockey operations Gina Kingsbury said Daoust is expected to return during the tournament.

The triple Olympian was injured in the second half Canada wins 12-1 against Switzerland in a Group A first preliminary round match on Thursday. Daoust played on a line with Natalie Spooner and young star Sarah Fillier, who had four goals and three assists against Switzerland.

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Sofia Goggia is back on the snow and preparing to fly to China to defend her Olympic downhill title for two weeks after crashing and hurting his knee and his left leg.

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Goggia posted a video on Facebook showing her wearing the Italy Olympic team jacket and said, “Today I got back on skis and it was awesome.”

She adds: “So much work during these two weeks, so many wounds to heal, so much effort… but so much desire to get there.

Goggia sprained his left knee, partially tore a cruciate ligament and has a “minor fracture” of the fibula bone in his leg. She also suffered tendon injuries after the fall during a World Cup super-G in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy.

Goggia has won the last eight World Cup downhills she has completed.

the Italian says she was “always able to focus on the goal and I never considered it lost”. She adds that she will be flying to China “soon” and that once there she will “put everything in place lap after lap as always”.

Goggia could play the super-G next Friday. The women’s downhill is scheduled for February 15.

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