Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin, right, shakes the hand of his Benin counterpart Oswald Omeki ©Russian Embassy in Benin

Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin is continuing his efforts to build international coalition as he looks to hold talks with African officials.

After visiting political figures from Central and South America earlier this week, Matytsin has now travelled to Africa with the aim of strengthening sporting ties with further nations.

Matytsin has paid a visit to Benin and Togo where he held meetings with officials.

During his time in Benin, Matytsin met with the country’s Sports Minister Oswald Omeki and Foreign Minister Aurelien Agbenonsi.

The meeting resulted in officials from both countries signing a Memorandum of Understanding in the field of physical culture and sports.

"This is the first ever visit of a delegation of the Ministry of Sports of the Russian Federation to the Republic of Benin," said Matytsin in a report by Russia’s official state news agency TASS.

"I am sure that our meeting today will intensify sports contacts at all levels.

"The Memorandum of Understanding between our departments in the field of physical culture and sports will give a new impetus to dynamic development sports interaction between our countries."

Following his trip to Benin, Matytsin met Togo’s Sports Minister Kama Lydi Kejaka Gbessi to pen another Memorandum of Understanding between the two nations.  

Matytsin said it was the first-ever visit of a delegation of the Russian Sports Ministry to the West African nation.

"Since the times of the USSR, Russia has assisted Togo in training coaching staff and football teams, we are ready to resume this practice in other sports, for example, handball," said Matytsin.

"In February 2021 during our meeting in Dakar, we discussed issues of strengthening bilateral cooperation in the field of student and mass sports.

"This year, 86 scholarships for Tongolese students will be allocated, and the Ministry of Sports of the Russian Federation is ready to work out the issue of allocating quotas for athletes of the national team."

According to TASS, Matytsin also invited athletes from Benin and Togo to participate in the International University Sports Festival, scheduled to be held in Yekaterinburg from August 19 to 31, as well as the inaugural Games of the Future esports event, due to be staged in Kazan next year.

Matytsin is now poised to fly to Dakar in Senegal which is scheduled to stage the eighth session of the Presidium of the Eighth Conference of the Parties to the International Convention against Doping in Sport.

The Russian official has recently held meetings with officials from Venezuela, Bolivia, Honduras and Cuba.

These latest trips come at a time when restrictions on the participation of Russian athletes are starting to be eased after being largely banned for more than a year in response to the war in Ukraine.

Several sports have agreed to readmit athletes from Russia and Belarus as neutrals following the International Olympic Committee’s recommendations last month to do so.