Argentine Olympic ad riles UK, IOC

The controversial advertisement features an athlete training in the streets of Port Stanley in the Falklands.

Story highlights

  • "This spot was also offensive to the Olympics spirit," Y&R says
  • The video says "To compete on English soil, we train on Argentine soil."
  • An Argentine field hockey player is shown training in the Falklands
  • British Foreign Office says it's "saddened at this attempt by Argentina to exploit the Games"

Britain and international Olympic officials are taking issue with an advertisement claiming Argentina has sovereignty over the Falkland Islands.

The advertisement shows Argentine field hockey star Fernando Zylberberg training in the streets of Port Stanley in the Falklands, a UK territory in the South Atlantic. The video ends with the slogan: "To compete on English soil, we train on Argentine soil."

The Argentine advertisement brought attention to the country's athletes training for the upcoming Olympic Games in London, and the video makes a statement about the war over the Falklands. Argentina has long claimed sovereignty over the islands it calls Las Malvinas.

Last month marked the 30-year anniversary of the start of the war. The Falklands have been under British rule since 1833. Britain won the 74-day war that began with an Argentine invasion attempt, but Argentina still presses claims to the islands, which are home to more than 3,000 people.

"We are saddened at this attempt by Argentina to exploit the Games," the British Foreign Office said. "The Olympics is about sport and not politics. The people of the Falklands are British and have chosen to be so. They remain free to choose their own futures both politically and economically and have a right to self-determination. 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."

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The International Olympic Committee said the Games shouldn't be a "a forum to raise political issues and the IOC regrets any attempt to use the spotlight of the Games for that end."

"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 honor the spirit of the Games and all those who take part," the IOC said.

The production company that filmed the controversial commercial issued a statement Friday saying it "strongly" condemned the work and asked the Argentine government to pull the spot. The firm, Y&R, also apologized "to the many who have been rightly disturbed by it, as have we," the company said.

"Furthermore it is against our policy to be involved in anything that is politically motivated. In addition, this spot was also offensive to the Olympics spirit. Whatever it was the creators set out to highlight, what they produced is contrary to everything that we as a company stand for."

Ian Hansen, a member of Falkland Islands' Legislative Assembly, also criticized the advertisement.

"This video was filmed without the knowledge of the Falkland Islands authorities," Hansen said. "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."

An article in Argentine state media agency Telam called the advertisement "impressive."

The advertisement was "far from any military connotation, and is part of the national government policies towards the Malvinas, to continue to claim sovereignty by peaceful means," the article said.