India skipping opening of Olympics over torchbearer’s selection
India has said it will not send an envoy to the opening or closing ceremonies of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics and will be joining the U.S.-led diplomatic boycott of the games.
The decision from the South Asian country comes after China announced it was including as a torchbearer a soldier who was involved in a deadly 2020 border clash with Indian troops, in the Ladakh region, in the relay ahead of the Opening Ceremonies.
Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said at a press conference that it was regrettable that China chose to politicize an event like the Olympics. He then said the Indian envoy will not attend the opening or closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics in Beijing.
“I wish to inform that our chargé 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 fraught relations between the two countries turned icier after the Chinese state news outlet Global Times tweeted that Qi Fabao, a regiment commander who was injured in the border skirmish with India, would be a torchbearer during the Winter Olympic torch relay.
The Indian newspaper Hindustan Times noted that the 2020 border skirmish saw 20 Indian soldiers and at least four Chinese troops killed as soldiers fought each other with rocks, batons and clubs wrapped in barbed wire.
The Indian Embassy in Washington, D.C., did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Jim Risch (R-Idaho) said on Twitter on Thursday that it was “shameful” that Beijing had chosen a torchbearer who was part of the regiment involved in the border skirmish.
India’s decision follows a similar one by the U.S., who along with Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada have announced a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics, citing China’s human rights violations, while allowing their athletes to compete.