IOC President Thomas Bach, left, met Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Hangzhou ©Chinese Foreign Ministry

Chinese President Xi Jinping has vowed to work with International Olympic Committee (IOC) leader Thomas Bach to "uphold the principle of non-politicisation of sports" following their meeting here.

Bach has led an IOC delegation to Hangzhou where he got the opportunity to meet Xi today before the Asian Games.

The German official is expected to join Xi at the Opening Ceremony of the continental multi-sport event which is set to be held at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center Stadium tomorrow.

Xi praised the IOC for a playing a "unique role in safeguarding the world peace and development and promoting unity and progress of the humankind" despite being faced with what he described as "severe challenges", as reported by Chinese state news agency Xinhua.

He also underlined China’s efforts to develop sports and participate in Olympic affairs, with Beijing staging the Winter Olympics last year.

"China will work with the IOC to uphold the principle of non-politicisation of sports, make full use of the legacy of the Beijing Winter Olympics, and make new and greater contributions to advancing the Olympic cause and building a community with a shared future for humanity," said Xi in a report by Xinhua.

IOC President Thomas Bach is expected to attend the Opening Ceremony of Hangzhou 2022 ©Getty Images
IOC President Thomas Bach is expected to attend the Opening Ceremony of Hangzhou 2022 ©Getty Images

The meeting comes at a time when the IOC is facing criticism over its decision to recommend the readmission of Russian and Belarusian athletes under a neutral flag.

The IOC has ruled that athletes from the two countries should be allowed to return to international competition as neutrals, provided they do not support the war in Ukraine and are not affiliated with the military.

Up to 500 Russian and Belarusian athletes had been approved by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) to participate at Hangzhou 2022 only for the IOC to conclude that it was "not feasible due to technical reasons".

According to Xinhua, Xi said Hangzhou was "ready" to stage the Asian Games and insisted that the Chinese Government was "fully confident in presenting a spectacular" event.

As well as meeting Xi, Bach held discussions with OCA Acting President Raja Randhir Singh in Hangzhou earlier today.

James Macleod, director of Olympic Solidarity and head of National Olympic Committee relations at the IOC, and OCA acting director general Vinod Kumar Tiwari were also in attendance for the meeting where Bach was presented with gifts from Singh.

Singh has been forced to resume his role as interim leader of the OCA after the IOC refused to recognise the election of Sheikh Ahmad's younger brother Sheikh Talal Fahad Al Ahmad Al Sabah as President.

Sheikh Talal overcame fellow Kuwaiti Husain Al-Musallam in the Presidential election at the OCA General Assembly in Bangkok in July.

The result would have seen Sheikh Talal succeed his older brother Sheikh Ahmed, who had led the OCA for 30 years until 2021 when he was forced to step down after being found guilty of forgery in a court in Geneva and sentenced to at least 13 months in prison.

The IOC is refusing to recognise the outcome of the election after claiming that Sheikh Ahmed, who had travelled to the Thai capital to lobby on behalf of his brother, had an "undeniable impact" on the result.

Sheikh Ahmad has been subsequently banned for three years, with the IOC warning members to refrain from interacting with the Kuwaiti official.

He had already self-suspended himself as an IOC member and stepped aside as President of the Association of National Olympic Committees in November 2018 when he was originally charged with forgery.