The British media have turned their eyes on Argentina which has decided not to send its president to attend the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, considered a diplomatic snub to Britain at a time of growing tensions over the Falkland Islands.
The Foreign Office has boasted that London 2012 will attract more heads of state and foreign dignitaries than any other previous Olympic tournament. But Argentine president Cristina Fernández will be conspicuous only by her absence.
The Argentine embassy in London confirmed to The Independent that President Cristina Fernandez would not be attending at any point during the Games. The spokesman refused to be drawn on whether the decision was a deliberate diplomatic snub to Britain.
Nonetheless Argentina’s first female president has taken an increasingly hard line on the disputed Falkland Islands. The relationship between Britain and Argentina has soured considerably with Cristina Fernandez keen to place pressure on London on what is the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War.
Earlier this year the Argentine government contracted a provocative advertisement promoting their national team showing athletes training in the Falklands. The advert ran under the strap-line: “To compete on English soil, we train on Argentine soil.”
The Falkland Islands government responded angrily to the adverts and so did the Foreign Office and PM David Cameron during last month’s G20 in Mexico allegedly had a strong exchange with the Argentine president. The Falklands government replied announcing a referendum on the “political status” of the Islands sometime in the first half of 2013.
Argentina, meanwhile, has become increasingly hostile to Falkland Islanders preventing free trade, convincing neighboring countries to bar Falklands flagged vessels from their ports, impeding cruise ships that have called in the Falklands from docking in Argentine ports, limiting flights using Argentine space and has dropped cooperation agreements on fisheries and oil.
President Cristina Fernandez however called on Argentina’s athletes to refrain from making any overt political gestures during their time in London, a move which was welcomed by the International Olympic Committee.