An Indian diplomat posted in Beijing has decided to boycott the opening and closing ceremonies of the forthcoming Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, in protest against China’s decision to appoint as torchbearer a soldier who fought in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley against the Indian Army in 2020. This attempt to draw attention to a soldier from Galwan, where 20 Indian troops died, is considered provocative by many. Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi today called China’s action “regrettable” while announcing the Indian diplomat’s decision at a weekly media briefing.
“It is indeed regrettable that the Chinese side has chosen to politicise an event like the Olympics. I wish to inform you that our charge d’affaires of the Embassy of India in Beijing will not be attending the opening or closing ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Olympics,” Bagchi said.
Earlier today, a Chinese state media report said a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) commander, who had suffered grave injuries during the Galwan clash, was to be a torchbearer at the Beijing Winter Olympics, to be held from February 4 to 20. Incidentally, the US, UK and Canada are among the countries which have already declared a diplomatic boycott of the Games, and yesterday Republican senator Jim Risch, who is also on the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, strongly criticised the Chinese move, saying, “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 US will continue to support Uyghur freedoms and the sovereignty of India.”
Only one Indian athlete is participating in the Winter Olympics this year, and soon after the ministry announcement, India’s national public broadcaster Prasar Bharati said it will not telecast the opening or closing ceremony live. In a tweet, Prasar Bharati CEO Shashi Shekhar Vempati wrote, “Consequent to the announcement by @meaindia, @ddsportschannel will not telecast live the Opening and Closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics being held in Beijing.”
Also earlier today, an Australian daily reported that China lost 42 soldiers in the Galwan Valley clash — more than ten times the four soldiers that Beijing claims to have lost. The report in ‘The Klaxon’ by a group of social media researchers said at least 38 Chinese soldiers died while attempting to cross the fast-flowing Galwan River in sub-zero temperatures and in darkness, in the early stages of the clash.