LONDON (AP) – The IOC criticized an Argentine TV ad Friday that links the London Olympics to Argentina’s dispute with Britain over the Falkland Islands, calling it a blatant attempt to use the games for political purposes.
The International Olympic Committee sent a letter to Argentina’s national Olympic committee denouncing the ad, which reasserts Argentina’s claim to the islands.
The ad shows the field hockey captain Fernando Zylberberg training for the games by running through the islands’ capital of Stanley. It says: “To compete on British soil, we train on Argentinian soil.”
“The Olympic 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,” the IOC said in a statement to The Associated Press.
“We are in contact with the Argentine NOC … 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 said.
Argentina’s Olympic Committee declined to comment and referred calls to the government. Argentina’s foreign ministry also declined to comment on the IOC letter.
Also Friday, the agency that created the advertisement condemned its own commercial and Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague accused Argentina of trying to misuse the Olympics for political gain.
Hague suggested the commercial was a stunt to “save a bit of pride” over recent setbacks in President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s diplomatic offensive on the disputed islands, which Argentina calls “Las Malvinas.”
Advertising agency Young & Rubicam apologized for the ad created by its agency in Argentina, saying the spot was deeply offensive to people around the world and to the Olympic spirit.
“We strongly condemn this work and have asked the Argentine government to pull the spot,” it said in a statement Friday, adding that the ad’s creators “behaved in a manner that is unacceptable” to the company.
Its statement did not mention how much Young & Rubicam was paid for the commercial or if it plans to return the money.
The Argentine and British governments have spent much of this year verbally sparring over the islands, with both sides accusing each other of aggression and arrogance.
Argentina is one of more than 200 countries sending teams to the London Olympics, which run from July 27 to Aug. 12.
“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 statement said.
Associated Press writers Vicente L. Panetta and Debora Rey in Buenos Aires, Argentina, contributed to this report.
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