* Clip shows Argentine athlete exercising on Falklands
* UK minister calls it "provocative"
* UK and Argentine hockey teams meet on Saturday
(Adds comments from UK Defence Minister Hammond)
By Stephen Addison
LONDON, May 4 Britain demanded an apology from
Argentina on Friday, accusing it of exploiting the upcoming
Olympic Games for political purposes by broadcasting a
"tasteless and insulting" TV advert that reasserted its claim to
the disputed Falkland Islands.
The offending advert shows an Argentine hockey player
training in the Falklands - the contested archipelago in the
South Atlantic which the two countries fought over in 1982 - and
exercising on the steps of a war memorial to British soldiers.
The 90-second ad was made to coincide with the runup to the
Olympic Games in London this summer and ends with the
voice-over: "to compete on English soil, we are training on
British Defence Secretary Philip Hammond called for the
International Olympic Committee (IOC) to examine the advert,
strongly condemning its broadcast.
"It's tasteless, it's provocative and very insulting to the
many British soldiers, sailors and airmen who gave their lives
protecting the Falklands," Hammond told Sky TV.
"I think it's a breach of one of the fundamental principles
of the Olympics - that politics are set aside, that nobody
should exploit the Olympic logo, the Olympic message for
political purposes and I hope the IOC will be looking at that."
He stopped short of calling for Argentina to be banned from
the Games but added: "I think at the very least the Argentines
should withdraw that video and apologise for it."
The advert is the latest in a series of diplomatic spats
between London and Buenos Aires over the past year. A move by
British companies to look for oil off the Falklands has
reignited old tensions, 30 years after the two countries fought
a brief war for control of the islands which Argentina refers to
as Las Malvinas.
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, and comes as
the British and Argentine womens' hockey teams prepare to meet
on Saturday in London for a pre-Olympic warm-up match.
The advert shows Argentine hockey captain Fernando
Zylberberg going through early-morning training exercises on the
He is seen 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.
According to Argentine newspaper Clarin, it was filmed when
the player was in the islands in March to compete in a marathon.
Foreign Secretary William Hague branded the advert a "stunt"
and accused Argentine President Cristina Fernandez of misusing
Fernandez has launched a wide-ranging diplomatic offensive
to reassert Argentina's claims to the remote islands, accusing
Britain of maintaining "colonial enclaves" and calling on it to
open sovereignty talks.
However, London refuses to discuss sovereignty of islands it
has ruled since the early 19th century for as long as their
inhabitants want to remain British.
Filmed without permission from the islands' authorities, the
advert appeared to contradict a recent statement by the
Argentine government that it would not 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."
(Additional reporting by Rosalba O'Brien in London and Rex
Gowar in Buenos Aires; Editing by Andrew Osborn)