Olympic advert of Argentinean athlete training on Falklands memorial sparks row
THE BRITISH Government has accused Argentina of being insensitive and disrespectful after it broadcast a television advert showing an Olympic hopeful training on a British war memorial in the Falklands.
In a highly-provocative move that ties the ongoing dispute over the islands with this summer's Games, the 90-second advert produced by the country's presidency says the athlete is preparing for London 2012 on "Argentine soil".
It shows Argentina hockey captain Fernando Zylberberg running in the Falklands capital Port Stanley and exercising on the island's Great War Memorial, which honours British sailors who died in the First World War.
The Foreign Office criticised the advert as an attempt to exploit and politicise the Games.
A FCO spokeswoman said: "We are saddened at this attempt by Argentina to exploit the Games. The Olympics is about sport and not politics. We are also dismayed at the insensitivity and disrespect demonstrated by the filmmakers in their use of a war memorial in the Falklands as a prop.
"The people of the Falklands are British and have chosen to be so. They remain free to chose their own futures both politically and economically and have a right to self-determination."
The spokeswoman added: "There are three parties to this debate, not just two as Argentina likes to pretend. The islanders just can't be written out of history."
The advert, which was reportedly broadcast on Wednesday, calls the islands by their Argentinian name, the Malvinas, and carries the tagline: "To compete on British soil, we train on Argentinian soil."
The clip ends with the words: "Homage to the fallen and the veterans of the Malvinas. Presidency of the Nation."
It comes following months of political bickering between London and Buenos Aires on the issue of the disputed South Atlantic islands.
Member of Falkland Islands Legislative Assembly Ian Hansen said that the advert was filmed without permission.
He told the island newspaper the daily Penguin News: "We determine our own future, and we will not be bullied by the Argentine government, neither by their attempts to undermine our economy, nor by their constant misrepresentation of the truth, nor by pieces of cheap and disrespectful propaganda such as this.
"It is hugely disappointing to see sport abused in this way, when it is so often seen as a vehicle for unity. It seems an act of desperation to sink to this."
Falklands War survivor Simon Weston also condemned the advert.
He told The Sun: "It will achieve nothing other than fuelling an argument. The hockey player doing step-ups on the war memorial is an absolute insult. I hope the Olympic authorities will see this for what it is and take action."
President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has been attempting to reassert Argentina's claim to the British overseas territory, but the British Government says it will not discuss the issue without the agreement of the Falkland islanders.
Last month saw the 30th anniversary of the start of the Falklands War.