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Torchbearer Row: Indian Envoy Will Not Attend Key Olympic Ceremonies, Says MEA

A Chinese soldier, who fought against the Indian Army in Galwan, was honoured as a torchbearer of the Olympic flame.

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After a Chinese soldier, who had fought against the Indian Army in the Galwan Valley, was given the honour of being one of the torchbearers of the Olympic flame at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, the Ministry of External Affairs declared on Thursday, 3 February, that the Indian envoy would not attend the opening and closing ceremonies of the games.

Speaking to the press, spokesperson Arindam Bagchi stated:

"Regrettable that China has chosen to politicise the Olympics. The Indian envoy will not attend the opening or closing ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics."
Arindam Bagchi

Following the announcement, CEO Prasar Bharati, Shashi Shekhar Vempati took to Twitter to say that the DD Sports channel will not air the ceremonies live from Beijing.

Galwan Soldier Honoured at Beijing Winter Olympics

People's Liberation Army (PLA) regiment commander Qi Fabao, who had sustained a head injury during the Galwan clash, had participated in the torch relay ceremony on Wednesday.

"Qi Fabao, a PLA regiment commander who sustained a head injury while fighting bravely in the Galwan Valley border skirmish with India, is a torchbearer during Wednesday's Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Torch Relay," China state-affiliated Global Times said in a tweet.

The move has been construed as an expression of China's hostile sentiment towards India.

India now joins the US, UK, Canada, Australia, Lithuania, Kosovo, Belgium, Denmark and Estonia, who had already declared a diplomatic boycott of the Games. While they will be sending athletes to compete, no ministers of officials will attend the event.

United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Jim Risch tweeted, "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. The U.S. will cont. to support Uyghur freedoms & the sovereignty of India [sic]."

Meanwhile, only one Indian athlete – skier Arif Mohammad Khan – will be participating in the event.

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Background

Twenty soldiers of the Indian Army were killed in the violent clash in Eastern Ladakh's Galwan Valley in June 2020.

While the Indian side claimed that 40 Chinese soldiers were killed in the confrontation, China had officially admitted that four of its military officers were killed in the confrontation.

A video of the PLA unfurling the Chinese flag in the Galwan Valley on Chinese New Year's was shared by the Chinese state-sponsored media in January, eliciting India's Opposition's condemnation of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government's 'aloofness'. The Ministry of External Affairs, however, had denied such reports.

Meanwhile, satellite imagery shared by geo-intelligence expert Damien Symon in January had suggested that China might be building a bridge across the Pangong Lake in the Chinese territory of Eastern Ladakh.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:   China   Winter Olympics   Galwan Clash 

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