Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman did not attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics on Friday, despite being on the official list of participants in China.
Instead, the Saudi delegation included Princess Reema Bandar Al-Saud, Saudi Ambassador to the United States.
On January 28, the Chinese Embassy in Saudi Arabia tweeted a note offering a warm welcome to the crown prince at the opening ceremony, adding that it was hoped the visit would promote China-Saudi strategic relations.
Prince bin Salman was one of the most high-profile world leaders scheduled to attend the event, which was overshadowed by diplomatic boycotts from many Western countries, including the US, UK and Canada.
China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that Prince bin Salman did not attend the opening ceremony due to “his schedule”.
“Prince Mohammed himself wished the Beijing Winter Olympics every success,” the statement read.
Prince bin Salman also did not attend a banquet for foreign leaders hosted by Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan on Saturday, which was broadcast on state media CGTN.
The Twitter account of the Saudi Embassy in the United States posted a video of the Saudi princess greeting the Saudi team during the opening ceremony. Alpine skier Faiq Abdi is the first Saudi athlete to compete in the Winter Olympics.
This post has been updated with comments from the Chinese Foreign Ministry.