Saudi Arabia's Princess Reema flies to China to support kingdom's historic Olympic skier

The Saudi ambassador to the US flew in to Beijing to support her country's first Winter Olympics athlete

Saudi Arabia's Princess Reema bint Bandar. Getty Images
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As the Beijing Winter Games 2022 prepares to officially open, influential figures from around the world are arriving in China to cheer on their Olympians.

The games, which kick off on Friday and run until February 20, will see around 2,600 athletes compete in 109 events across 15 disciplines in seven sports.

The opening ceremony will take place on Friday evening at Beijing's national stadium known as The Bird's Nest, and will have around 3,000 people performing, many of who will be made up of Chinese youth.

Ahead of the ceremony, Princess Reema bint Bandar, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US, has flown in to Beijing to support the kingdom's first Winter Olympics athlete.

Posting a photo on Instagram of herself arriving in the country, against the backdrop of the official Olympics logo, she wrote: “Thrilled to be in Beijing to support our first ever #Saudi Winter Olympics team!”

She later posted a photo of the Olympic rings alongside a message to the kingdom’s athletes. “Wishing our #Saudi team the best of luck during the Winter Olympic games,” she wrote.

“So proud to be here and witness this milestone, made possible by the hard work of Saudi Olympic and Paralympic Committee and Ministry of Sports to develop the sports sector, guided by Vision 2030 and a determination to reach our full potential.”

Alpine skier Fayik Abdi will make history as he becomes the first athlete to represent Saudi Arabia at the Winter Olympics.

Princess Reema is not the only member of royalty set to attend the games. King Norodom Sihamoni of Cambodia, Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn of Thailand and Prince Albert II of Monaco will all be in attendance.

However, a number of European royal families will not be sending representatives to the games, with many citing Covid-19 as the reason.

Great Britain’s Princess Anne had been due to attend, however the British royal family announced last week that the princess royal, who is head of the country’s Olympics Association, would no longer be going to China.

“The princess royal is disappointed she will not be able to attend the IOC meetings in Beijing ahead of the Winter Olympics this year, nor the Games themselves,” said the palace.

“This is due to the flight and Covid travel restriction difficulties in getting to and from the Games without losing too much of her busy work schedule at home.

“Her royal highness sends her best wishes for the Games to the British athletes and supporting officials.”

The Norwegian royal family also said they would not be in attendance at this year’s games. “This year, the royal family will follow the Winter Olympics and cheer on the Norwegian athletes in front of the TV screen,” they said. “The royal family, like large parts of Norway, will follow the games with great joy. The royal family wishes the Norwegian athletes and support staff good luck in Beijing.”

Updated: February 03, 2022, 12:37 PM