SOCHI, February 4 (R-Sport) – Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday welcomed the guests of the International Olympic Committee to their 126th session in Sochi, where the Winter Games open Friday.
The session at a hotel in the Black Sea resort runs Wednesday through Friday, and will be the first to feature an address from a UN secretary-general after Ban Ki-moon confirmed earlier this week that he’ll attend.
“Let me declare the 126th session of the International Olympic Committee open,” Putin said in English at a welcome event at the Winter Theater in Sochi.
Putin rarely uses other languages publicly, and the switch to English was a throwback to 2007, when he gave an impassioned speech to the IOC to help Sochi win the Games over Pyongchang and Salzburg.
The two-day session, ending Friday, is expected to focus on the so-called Olympic Agenda 2020, a plan of how the Games will develop and modernize under new president Thomas Bach.
Putin's presence at the session demonstrates his role as the chief architect of the Sochi Winter Games, widely described as his pet project.
He has been present at every major stage, from the 2007 IOC congress in Guatemala to Friday's opening ceremony, where Putin is expected to be a central figure.