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President Xi Jinping of China meets with IOC President Thomas Bach prior to the Winter Olympics

Thomas Bach has been a vocal proponent of the Winter Olympics in Beijing, asking the International Olympic Committee to stay politically impartial

President Xi Jinping of China meets with IOC President Thomas Bach prior to the Winter Olympics

China's President Xi Jinping met with Olympic chief Thomas Bach on Tuesday, in a rare pandemic-era encounter with a foreign guest as the country prepares to host the Winter Olympics.

"Chinese President Xi Jinping met with President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Thomas Bach in Beijing on Tuesday," read a statement from Xinhua news agency, which gave no further details.

According to Xinhua, Bach landed in Beijing on Saturday and went into a "three-day isolation" ahead of the Beijing 2022 opening ceremony on February 4.

China, where the coronavirus originally appeared, has adhered to a stringent zero-Covid policy that includes widespread testing and immediate lockdowns in the event of an outbreak.

This has kept illnesses low, but it has closed the country off from the rest of the world.

Most foreign visitors are required to quarantine for many weeks, but there are special rules in place for the Olympics.

Participants will be sucked into a "closed loop" bubble in Beijing, where they will be unable to contact with the general population.

Xi has not left China since the outbreak began, and his most recent meeting with a foreign head of state was in March 2020, when he met Pakistani President Arif Alvi in Beijing.

During the Olympics, Xi is anticipated to meet with a number of foreign leaders and dignitaries.

China intends to turn the Games next week into a soft power triumph, despite a diplomatic boycott by some western countries over the country's human rights record.

Bach has been a vocal backer of Beijing's Games and has asked that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) stay politically impartial.

Late last year, his organisation came under fire for participating in a video conversation with Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai, who had gone missing after levelling sexual assault charges against a prominent official.

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