Argentina slammed by IOC for airing "political" TV advert shot on Falkland Islands
Saturday, 05 May 2012
May 5 - The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has criticised Argentina for showing a television advertisement that features hockey star Fernando Zylberberg training on the Falkland Islands.
Midfielder Zylberberg (pictured below), the captain of the Argentine team, was shown in the clip (pictured top) running past, and exercising at, some of the Islands' most famous landmarks.
Featuring the line "to compete on British oil, we train on Argentinian soil", the advert reignited the dispute between the two countries over the territory.
Britain and Argentina went to war 30 years ago over the Falklands and tensions have increased between the two countries as the anniversary has neared.
With Britain hosting this summer's Olympic and Paralympics, the Games has been used by Argentina to assert its claim to sovereignty over the islands.
As well as the advertisement, a Bill was recently submitted in the Argentine Parliament that called for an image of the islands to be included on the country's Olympic and Paralympic clothing.
The IOC, which has insisted it always tries to keep politics and sport separate, has nevertheless denounced the latest stunt, which had already been criticised by Britain's Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
The Games "should not be a forum to raise political issues and the IOC regrets any attempts to use the spotlight of the Games for that end," said an IOC statement.
"We are in contact with the Argentine NOC (National Olympic Committee) on a regular basis, and we have been reassured on a number of occasions that the NOC will not seek to use the Games as a political platform and will fully respect the Olympic Charter.
"The IOC has always striven to separate sport from politics, and honour the spirit of the Games and all those who take part."
Even the advertising agency responsible for the advertisement has criticised its television appearance.
Young and Rubicam (Y&R)'s chief executive has slammed the broadcast as offensive to the Olympic spirit and his company has reportedly asked for it to be pulled from television.
"Our guidelines say you're not allowed to do anything political or politicised," said David Sable.
"We do not do political campaigns and we never have."
Zylberberg has spoken of his pride at taking part in the advertisement during an interview with the Cadena 3 radio station.
"The idea was to get the message through that the Malvinas are Argentine," he said.
"I spent a whole week running on the island.
"It was an incredible experience because we were surrounded by [Argentine] war veterans."
By coincidence, Argentina's women's hockey team were in action at Britain's Olympic Park this morning during the sport's London 2012 test event, succumbing to a 2-0 defeat to the hosts.
May 2012: Argentine hockey player sparks anger after releasing Olympic training video in the Falklands