President Burkhalter has arrived in Sochi for the opening of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Along with numerous heads of state and government, he will first attend a reception arranged by the Russian authorities and hosted by President Vladimir Putin. He will then be present at the opening ceremony during which the Swiss delegation, led by ski jumper Simon Amman, will present the national flag.
On Saturday, the president will visit athletes at their village near the Olympic Park. Accompanied by the directors of Swiss Olympic, he will convey his best wishes and say a few words of encouragement. The athletes will also be able to express their hopes and expectations for the Olympics, and explain what it means to be selected to represent their country.
After the visit, Didier Burkhalter will head to the House of Switzerland. The building, designed and run by Presence Switzerland on behalf of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), is open to the public for the duration of the games. It is here that festivities marking 200 years of diplomatic relations with Russia will be launched in the presence of the Russian authorities. The occasion provides an opportunity to reinforce the already strong economic, cultural and political ties that exist between the two countries.
This privileged relationship is showcased throughout the House of Switzerland in an exhibition on relations forged between the two countries over a period of almost 300 years. The intensive scientific, cultural and academic exchanges that have existed between Russia and Switzerland since the beginning of the 13th century, and which form the basis of the cooperation that exists today, are portrayed in an original stage design by way of short stories. The project underscores the unique dimension of a building which combines contemporary design and traditional materials. It will be re-erected at different events, such as the European athletics championships in Zurich and the next Summer Olympics in Rio.
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