March 22 - An invitation for Russian President Vladimir Putin to visit the International Olympic Committee (IOC) headquarters in Lausanne following Sochi 2014 is "protocol" which happens after every Games, it has been claimed.
News that IOC President Thomas Bach had personally invited Putin to come and visit the headquarters, as well as the Olympic Museum, in the Swiss city, has provoked controversy in some quarters as the world continues to react to the Russian annexation of Crimea in Ukraine.
A series of sanctions have been introduced by the United States and the European Union in response as relations between Russia and the West remain frosty.
In contrast, a level of cordiality was evident between the IOC and Putin throughout the Games last month, with the Olympics repeatedly hailed as something apolitical which should "bring people together rather than push them apart."
But the possibility of the invitation to Putin being an extension of this cordiality was strongly downplayed by IOC spokesman Mark Adams when he told insidethegames here today that such an invitation was purely "protocol".
The IOC extended a similar invitation following every Games, including to Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron after London 2012.
Speaking here following the IOC Coordination Commission visit, Adams revealed the invitation was given by Bach during a meeting on February 24, the day after the Games ended.
The IOC is still awaiting a response to the invitation.
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