British Columbia

Russian president may cancel Vancouver visit

There are conflicting reports on whether Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will visit Vancouver for the closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics.

Announcement follows team's poor Olympic results

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced Thursday the he has delayed his visit to Vancouver.

There are conflicting reports on whether Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will visit Vancouver for the closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics.

CBC News reported earlier that Medvedev had cancelled his visit entirely. But in a report published later in the Toronto Star, Russia's honorary consul in Vancouver, Alexander Bardin, was quoted as saying Medvedev had only delayed his trip and would show up.

Later, however, Bardin told CBC News that, in fact, he was not certain about Medvedev's intentions.

Russia is the next host of the Winter Olympics — in Sochi in 2014 — and Medvedev had planned to attend to receive the Olympic flag at the end of the Games.

Bardin suggested to the Star that the Russian men's Olympic hockey loss to Canada on Wednesday might have something to do with Medvedev's travel plans.

"I don’t know if he’s angry exactly, but I think like most everyone, the mood is bad, very bad," Bardin said.

Olympic protocol does not require the president of the next host country to attend the closing ceremonies, and reports earlier Thursday indicated the mayor of Sochi would do the flag honours instead.

Poor Olympic results

The Russian men's hockey team lost 7-3 to Canada on Wednesday night. This is the first Olympic Games the Russian men's hockey team has exited without playing for a medal.

Russian hockey star Alexander Ovechkin sits on the boards during his team's game against Canada in the Olympic quarterfinals. ((Shaun Best/Reuters))

Russia has also fared poorly in the medal count at the Vancouver Olympics, holding fifth place behind Canada as of Thursday afternoon with 13 medals — less than half of their predicted results.

The team has been criticized in the Russian media, but even before the Games began, Medvedev was taking the heat for the Russian Olympic team.

International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge called out Medvedev for his country's repeated doping violations in cross-country skiing and biathlon.

The suspicions surrounding the Russians, who have had eight biathletes and cross-country skiers banned for doping since the end of the 2009 World Cup season, were raised repeatedly during Rogge's media conference in Vancouver on Feb. 9.