Argentina: Falklands Olympics Video Sparks Controversy

This post is part of our Special Coverage London Olympics 2012

Over and above the event's athletic importance, competing in the London 2012 Olympics for Argentina also has political connotations due to the memory of those killed in the Falklands War. April 2, 2012 marked the 30th anniversary of the landing of Argentine troops in the Falkland Islands, known as the Malvinas in Argentina. With the imminent start of the 2012 Olympic Games, the Office of the Argentinian President released a video tribute via their YouTube channel [es]:

The video, which was made by the Office of the Argentine Presidency [es] and filmed in the islands, shows an Argentinian athlete training for the London Olympics in the Falkland Islands, a British Overseas Territory. The final sentence sparked the controversy: “To compete on English soil, we train on Argentine soil.” The protagonist of the video is Fernando Zylberberg, a player of the Argentina Hockey Team, who will not actually be participating in the 2012 Olympics.

The reaction by the Olympic Committee was immediate. The website SSQH [es] posted the reaction:

“Los Juegos Olímpicos no deben ser un foro para tratar temas políticos, y el COI lamenta cualquier uso de la plataforma de los Juegos para esos fines”, señaló la entidad en un comunicado enviado a la agencias de noticias AP. “Estamos en contacto con el (Comité Olímpico) Argentino… y en varias ocasiones nos han asegurado que el comité olímpico nacional no tratará de usar los Juegos como una plataforma política, y respetará la Carta Olímpica”, agregó el COI.

The Olympic Games should not be a forum to discuss political issues, and the IOC regrets any use of the platform of the Games for those purposes,” [the Olympic Committee] said in a statement to the AP news agency. “We are in contact with the Argentine (Olympic Committee)  … who have repeatedly assured us that the National Olympic Committee will not try to use the Games as a political platform, and will respect the Olympic Charter,” the IOC added.

The blog Sopitas [es] also commented on the controversy:

A 30 años de la guerra entre Argentina y Gran Bretaña por estas islas, y ante la proximidad de los Juegos Olímpicos, este spot parece una provocación que ya está causando polémica.

Ian Hansen, legislador de las Malvinas dijo estar decepcionado por este video, el cual “intenta politizar los Juegos Olímpicos en servicio de las ambiciones territoriales argentinas”.

30 years after the war between Argentina and Britain over these islands, and so close to the start of the Olympics, this ad looks like a provocation that is already causing controversy.

Ian Hansen, Falklands legislator, said he was disappointed by this video, which “attempts to politicize the Olympic Games in the service of the Argentine territorial ambitions.”

Penguin News, a newspaper from the Falkland Islands, considered the video disrespectful:

Sadly, this illustrates the disrespect the Argentine authorities have for our home and our people.  Unsurprisingly, at no stage does the video feature any Falkland Islanders – a clear reflection of Argentina's policy, which is to pretend that the people of the Falkland Islands do not exist.

However, as the comments [es] show on YouTube, for many Argentinians the video has served to reinforce their position that the Falkland Islands belong to Argentina.

This post is part of our Special Coverage London Olympics 2012


This post was sub-edited by Jane Ellis.


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