Winter Games to bring more sports exchanges with China: Argentine ambassador
Published: Feb 03, 2022 02:25 PM
Argentina Ambassador to China Sabino Vaca Narvaja  Photo: Hu Yuwei/GT

Argentina Ambassador to China Sabino Vaca Narvaja Photo: Hu Yuwei/GT

Argentina supports the Beijing 2022 Winter Games and hopes that the world will see not only the success of individual athletes, but also the victory of solidarity and collectivism among all nations amid the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, Argentina Ambassador to China Sabino Vaca Narvaja told the Global Times in an exclusive interview explaining why Argentina rejects politicization of the Winter Olympics.

The ambassador said China and Argentina will strengthen cooperation in winter sports after the Games. In addition, during Argentine President Alberto Fernandez's visit to China during the Games, Argentina and China will jointly announce to found a football school where Argentine coaches and technicians can provide training for Chinese football players and carry out intensive sports exchanges. "Sports cooperation will become a key arena for future cooperation."

Argentina has stated on multiple occasions that it firmly supports China hosting the Beijing Winter Olympics. On December 9, 2021, the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs published a statement to announce its support for the Games.

The statement came at a time when the US kept pressuring other countries not to send officials to the Games in Beijing. The Argentine foreign ministry stressed that Argentina is one of the earliest countries to back Beijing in holding the Winter Olympic Games.

Sabino Vaca Narvaja said that politicizing the Games is wrong, as it is supposed to be "an occasion for all nations to show solidarity and harmony."

The ambassador told the Global Times that the Olympic Games should be an occasion for the world's get-together and an occasion for sportsmanship to reign. That is why Argentina supported the Games from the beginning and decided to send a delegation to the Games.

"Our President Fernandez came to attend the Games in person shows that Argentina attaches great importance to China's hosting of the Winter Olympic Games and attaches great importance to bilateral relations," said the ambassador.

Six Argentinian athletes are competing in four of the 15 sports in the Games, including cross-country skiing, alpine skiing, luge and ice skating, the ambassador said, expressing his high expectations for the Argentine players.

"Of course, we expect the best from every Argentine athlete, but we are more interested in sportsmanship in competing fairly. A real victory for all nations is that we can come together in one place so that the world can see not only individual victories but also collectivist spirit," he said.

Argentina Ambassador to China Sabino Vaca Narvaja  Photo: Hu Yuwei/GT

Argentina Ambassador to China Sabino Vaca Narvaja Photo: Hu Yuwei/GT

Narvaja said that some countries use democracy and human rights as political chess pieces to defame others. "They often hype some countries' issues with the excuse of human rights and democracy, while turning a blind eye to the dire situation in their own countries."

Some countries cannot even fix their own human rights and democratic problems, he said, noting that "so we must be careful to avoid the Olympic Games being politicized."

Argentina is one of the few South American countries with the appropriate weather conditions to perform winter sports, the ambassador said. There are many ski resorts in the south of the country, which can also be used by other Latin American countries for winter tourism and sports. The ambassador said that in the future, Argentina and China will jointly build more winter sports infrastructure like ski slopes to facilitate tourism.

Fernandez's first visit to China since he was elected as Argentine President in 2019 coincides with the 50th anniversary of China-Argentina diplomatic ties.

The ambassador said that Argentina, which has been elected as the rotating chair for the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), will promote cooperation between Latin America and China via a special mechanism with China under the framework of the CELAC. The ambassador underlined the complementarity China-Argentina ties that have boosted the rapid development of relations over the past 50 years, which he said was evident in Argentina's unwavering policy of "getting closer to China" .

Particularly, the ambassador appreciated China's steady support of medical sources to Argentina during the pandemic. "This reminds me of a saying that real friendship is shown in times of trouble. It is China that has been there when Argentina and other countries have faced difficulties."

The Argentine diplomat recalled that in 2020, when the world was in urgent need of medical supplies, China sent 46 flights of medical supplies, including donations and purchases, in addition to a large number of supplies arriving from China by ship.

"In 2020, Argentina received about 1,500 tons of health supplies from China. These supplies have greatly helped our health system and we are deeply grateful for China's cooperation with us during this difficult time," said the envoy.

"Not only has China been extremely responsible in managing the pandemic itself, but it has also been one of the most generous donors to other developing countries, especially in providing vaccines," The ambassador told the Global Times. "Argentina received 30 million doses of Sinopharm-produced inactivated vaccines and 5 million doses of CanSinoBIO-produced one-dose vaccines from China last year, which can vaccinate 20 million Argentines. They played a crucial role in Argentina's national vaccination program. 

At present, Argentina is cooperating with Sinopharm and other Chinese vaccine makers to produce Chinese COVID-19 vaccines locally.