Politics has crawled into the London Olympic Games. Some countries are taking the occasion to question British foreign policy; others reject possible hidden agendas. The result: the Olympic Spirit may not shine so bright this summer in London.
Last week, for instance, yet another diplomatic row broke out between Argentina and the United Kingdom over a TV advertisement commissioned by Argentina’s Government, showing Argentine Olympic Hockey Team captain Fernando Zylberberg working-out and running through the streets and fields of Port Stanley/Puerto Argentino in the Falkland/Malvinas Islands.
The ad’s slogan is strong: “To compete on English soil; we are first training on Argentine soil,” the insinuation being that the Malvinas Islands are Argentinean territory.
The ad ends with a message from the Argentine President’s Office paying tribute to “our heroic dead and veterans of the Malvinas War” between Argentina and the UK.
Immediately, the advertising agency which prepared the spot – New York-based Young & Rubicam – issued a statement saying, “It has come to our attention that our agency in Argentina created an ad for the Argentine government that has deeply offended many people in the UK and around the world. We strongly condemn this work and have asked the Argentine government to pull the spot.”
Hopefully, Argentina’s government will not pull the spot, particularly after recent heated diplomatic exchanges over the Falkland/Malvinas which pitted both countries in a brief 74-day war in 1982.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague accused Argentina of using the upcoming Olympic Games for political aim, pointing to President Cristina Kirchner’s diplomatic failure in claiming sovereignty over the islands. In turn, Sebastian Coe, president of the 2012 Olympic Games Committee, criticized the ad saying the Games “are not a political affair” but rather a gathering “to celebrate sports.”
They’re probably both right: the Argentine government’s unrealistic and lukewarm strategies over the Falklands are poor at best.
As the undersigned wrote to the London Telegraph on May, to balance things out maybe Young & Rubicam should issue a further statement saying something like, “It has come to our attention that the UK continues to illegally occupy the Falkland/Malvinas Islands, something that has deeply offended many people in Argentina and around the world. We strongly condemn this occupation which should cease, and will ask the British government to pull out of the Falklands/Malvinas.”
The ad was secretly filmed on the Falkland/Malvinas on March 18, when Zylberberg posed as just another runner in a marathon held that day on the Islands.
But this is not the only case where the Olympic Games, due to start July 27, have attracted political turmoil.
On May 1, Iran’s global news service PressTV complained that “the London Olympic Games have turned into a political game even before the start of the events, with…(its) official website removing the countries’ capitals from their profiles on the orders of Israel… The official website had described Israel as a country without a capital…(because) the space for Israel’s capital… had been… left empty as Jerusalem (Al-Quds) was listed as Palestine’s capital.”