Indian envoy to skip Beijing Winter Olympics

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 India on Thursday announced that its top diplomat in China will skip the opening or closing ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics while describing as “regrettable” the Chinese side fielding a military officer involved in the Galwan Valley clash as its torchbearer for the mega sporting event. External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said the Chinese side has chosen to politicise an event such as the Olympics and that the Charge d’Affaires of the Indian embassy in Beijing will not be attending the opening or the closing ceremony.

The charge d’affaires at the embassy is the senior-most diplomat at present as ambassador-designate Pradeep Kumar Rawat is yet to take charge. “We have seen the reports on this issue. It is indeed regrettable that the Chinese side has chosen to politicise an event like the Olympics. 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 opening ceremony of the 24th Winter Games will take place on Friday.

Qi Fabao, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) regiment commander involved in the June 15, 2020 clash with India in Galwan Valley, was chosen by China to carry the Winter Olympic torch in Beijing on Wednesday, according to China’s state-run Global Times newspaper. Fabao, who sustained a serious head injury during the clashes, was among the 1,200 torchbearers at a torch relay in Beijing on Wednesday. The Chinese move was seen as some kind of messaging towards India. Soon after the announcement by the Ministry of External Affairs, Prasar Bharati CEO Shashi Shekhar Vempati said that Doordarshan’s sports channels will not live telecast the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics.

India’s move comes over two months after it expressed support for China in hosting the Beijing Olympics during a meeting of Foreign Ministers under the framework of Russia-India-China trilateral. “The Ministers expressed their support to China to host Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games,” a joint communique issued after the meeting said on November 26.

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