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article imageArgentinian Olympics ad annoys Britain

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By Amanda Payne     May 4, 2012 in Sports
An advert showing Argentinian hockey captain, Fernando Zylberberg running through quiet, early morning streets, doing exercises against a wooden bench and running his hands through sand on a beach was aired on May 2.
There is, however, a major problem as far as the British government is concerned. The advert, promoting the Argentinian athletes who will be attending the London 2012 Olympic games later this summer, was filmed secretly on the Falkland Islands, known to the Argentinians as 'Las Malvinas'.
Zylberberg is seen running past British style red telephone boxes and the offices of local newspaper 'Penguin News' in Port Stanley and exercising on a bench outside a pub. The final line of the advert is, perhaps, the ultimate insult to the British hosts of this year's Olympics. It says "Para competir en suelo Inglés, entrenamos en suelo argentino" which translates as "To compete on English soil, we train on Argentinian soil".
The BBC reports that Philip Hammond, UK Defence Secretary, finds one scene particularly offensive when the hockey player is seen using the steps of the World War I memorial in Port Stanley as part of his training. Mr Hammond said:
"I also think it's a breach of one of the fundamental principles of the Olympics: That politics is set aside, that nobody should exploit the Olympic logo, the Olympic message, for political purposes. I hope the International Olympic Committee will be looking at that."
The Daily Mail points out that the airing of the advert coincided with the anniversary of the sinking of the Argentine warship, General Belgrano, by Britain during the Falklands war thirty years ago. The paper reports Foreign Secretary, William Hague as saying the advert was a "stunt". He said:
"I think what is happening is they are looking for one or two stunts to try and make up for that or save a bit of pride somehow. But I don't think trying to misuse the Olympics in some way for political purposes will go down very well with other countries".
The Penguin News, whose offices appeared without their knowledge in the advert wrote that a Member of the Falkland Islands Legislative Assembly, Ian Hansen, said:
"We were very disappointed this morning to see the advert from the Argentine Presidential Office, attempting to politicise the Olympics in service of their territorial ambitions. This video was filmed without the knowledge of the Falkland Islands authorities. It is deeply sad to see Mr Zylberberg clambering over a war memorial, especially in this anniversary year. Sadly, this illustrates the disrespect the Argentine authorities have for our home and our people".
Sky News says that the owners of the agency who made the advert have been quick to distance themselves saying that they had called on the Argentinian government not to air the advert.
"We strongly condemn this work and have asked the Argentine government to pull the spot."
Spanish newspaper El Mundo says, in Spanish, that the advert was financed by the Casa Rosada, home of Argentinian President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and that it finishes with a message that the advert is a homage to those who died or fought in the war thirty years ago.
Argentinian newspaper, La Nación, also only available in Spanish, says that the hockey player claims that he did not know who had paid him for the filming of the advert. He has now gone into hiding. The paper says that the head of the Argentinian Olympic Committee insists that the Olympic Games are not a platform for political purposes and that athletes can not demonstrate or use the games for their own political purposes. However, it seems that Zylberberg will not be punished in any way and will still travel to the games.
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