Chinese soldier in Winter Olympics torch relay sparks Indian boycott

New Delhi, Feb 2 (EFE).- India Thursday said its envoy in Beijing would skip the Winter Olympics opening and closing ceremonies after a Chinese soldier, involved in a deadly 2020 Himalayan border clash, took part in the torch rally for the mega sporting event.

“It is indeed regrettable that the Chinese side has chosen to politicize an event like Olympics,” Indian foreign ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi told reporters.

“I wish to inform that the Charge d’Affaires of the Embassy of India in Beijing will not be attending the opening or the closing ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics,” Bagchi said.

The angry reaction came after the Chinese state-run Global Times reported that Qi Fabao, a People’s Liberation Army regiment commander, became a torchbearer during Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Torch Relay on Wednesday.

The Global Times said Qi had sustained a head injury during the Himalayan border skirmish with India in 2020 in the Galwan Valley, part of the boundary sector disputed between the two countries.

Qi took the flame from Wang Meng, the four-time Olympic short track speed skating champion, at the Winter Olympic Park Wednesday.

When passing the flame, Wang and Qi made military salutes to each other, the Global Times said.

The border clash in the Galwan Valley along the de facto border in the easter Ladakh sector was the deadliest between the armies of the two nuclear-armed Asian giants.

At least 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers were killed in the physical brawl between the troops.

Indian public broadcaster Prasar Bharati, which comprises the Doordarshan TV Network and All India Radio, announced that it would boycott the event and not air the live broadcast of the opening and closing ceremonies.

“Consequent to the announcement by (the ministry of external affairs), (we) will not telecast live the opening and closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Beijing,” Prasar Bharti CEO Shashi Shekhar Vempati said on Twitter.

India has sent only one athlete to the Winter Games, skier Arif Khan to compete in the men’s alpine skiing category.

Khan hails from the Indian-administered side of Kashmir, a Himalayan region disputed between India and Pakistan.

The controversial torch relay also sparked criticism from the United States that has called for a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics over China’s human rights record.

“It’s shameful that Beijing chose a torchbearer for the Olympics 2022 who’s part of the military command that attacked India in 2020 and is implementing genocide against the Uyghurs,” US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Jim Risch tweeted.

“The US will continue to support Uyghur freedoms and the sovereignty of India.”

Several western countries, including the US, the United Kingdom, and Canada, have refused to send officials to Beijing for the opening ceremony on Friday.

The other countries to boycott the event include Australia, Lithuania, Kosovo, Belgium, Denmark, and Estonia.

The Winter Olympics are from Feb.4 to 20, with around 3,000 athletes competing in 109 different events. EFE


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