UK denounces Argentine Olympic advert as a 'stunt'

LONDON - British Foreign Secretary William Hague has branded as a stunt an Olympic TV advert by Argentina featuring a hockey player training on the disputed Falkland Islands, described in the broadcast as "Argentine soil".

As the British and Argentine womens' hockey teams prepare to meet on Saturday in London in an Olympic warm-up event, Hague accused Buenos Aires of trying to misuse the Games.

"Argentina has had some diplomatic setbacks in the last few weeks...and I think what's happening is that they're looking for one or two stunts to try to make up for that or save a bit of pride somehow," Hague told Sky television n.

He added: "I don't think trying to misuse the Olympics in some way for political purposes will go down very well with other countries."

The advert is the latest incident in a series of diplomatic spats between London and Buenos Aires over the past year, as the exploration of oil off the Falklands by British companies has reignited old tensions, 30 years after the two countries fought a brief war over control of the islands.

The broadcast aired the day after the 30th anniversary of the sinking of the Argentine cruiser Belgrano by a British submarine, which led to the loss of over 300 lives.

President Cristina Fernandez has launched a wide-ranging diplomatic offensive to assert Argentina's claims to the South Atlantic islands, accusing Britain of maintaining "colonial enclaves" and calling on London to open sovereignty talks.

The advert showed Argentine hockey captain Fernando Zylberberg, who will be competing at the Olympics, going through early-morning training exercises on the islands Argentina calls the Malvinas.

He is shown running past several symbolic British landmarks like the Globe Tavern in the capital Port Stanley, the offices of the local paper "Penguin News" and a red telephone box.

Most controversially, he uses a memorial to World War One British soldiers to perform a series of step-ups.

The 90-second ad ends with the voice-over: "to compete on English soil, we are training on Argentine soil."

Filmed without permission from the islands' authorities, it contradicted a recent denial by the Argentine government that it would seek political gain from the London Games which take place from July 27 to Aug. 12.

Argentine Sports Secretary Claudio Morresi told Reuters last month: "The Argentine delegation will travel to London with the conviction in their minds and hearts that the Malvinas are Argentine but all they will be going to London to do is take part in the sporting event."

According to Argentine newspaper Clarin, the advert was filmed when the hockey player was in the islands in March to compete in a marathon.

Become a fan on Facebook