India boycotts Beijing Olympics over Chinese choice of torchbearer

India did not appreciate a commander from the Galwan Valley clash being assigned the honor at the Winter Olympics

Indian diplomats will boycott the opening and closing ceremonies of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics after a row over a torchbearer who previously fought in a skirmish between the two countries.

India’s Ministry of External Affairs confirmed the development on Thursday, saying it was “regrettable” that China “has chosen to politicize the Olympics.”

“The Indian envoy will not attend the opening or closing ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics,” stated spokesperson Arindam Bagchi.

The fallout began on Wednesday after a Chinese People’s Liberation Army soldier, Qi Fabao, took part in the traditional torch relay.

The Indian team pictured at the 2018 Winter Olympics. © Michael Kappeler/picture alliance via Getty Images

Qi was a regiment commander for the PLA, and among the troops who fought in a clash in the Galwan Valley which is part of the Ladakh region disputed by the two nations and Pakistan. 

Chinese media outlet Global Times dubbed Qi a “hero” after reporting that the soldier – who suffered a serious head injury but claimed to state broadcaster CCTV that he was “ready to return to the battlefield and fight again” in December – had been included among the Winter Olympics’ 1,200 torchbearers.

Following the Ministry of External Affairs’ announcement, CEO Shashi Shekhar Vempati said on Twitter that national broadcaster Doordarshan won’t televise Beijing 2022’s opening and closing ceremonies either.

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