The Olympics are a time where the world’s nations are supposed to come together for the love of sport, but the Spanish basketball team apparently missed the memo. The entire women’s and men’s team, including L.A. Lakers player Pau Gasol, thought it was okay to be photographed pulling their eyelids into slits while standing over a Chinese dragon for an advertisement that ran in Spain’s most popular daily newspaper. How this insensitive behavior was supposed to promote the courier company that sponsored the ad is beyond anyone’s comprehension. It should be interesting to see, however, what effect it will have on Madrid’s bid to host the Olympics in 2016 or 2020.
This is just the latest addition to Spain’s history of racism in sporting events which includes monkey chants towards English football players during a match, a crowd taunting Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton with blackface and afros, and an infamous racist remark by Spain’s football manager about Thierry Henry. Perhaps sports just bring out the racist undertones and tensions that already exist, but we think it’s time for Spain, and the world, to address these issues.
UPDATE: Although the Spanish coach has refused to apologize, some members of the Spanish men's and women's basketball teams have shown remorse for the ill-advised advertisement.
Gasol was one of those to voice his regret about the advertisement, "If anyone feels offended by it, we totally apologize for it," the Spanish star told
the New York Times, "Some of us didn't feel comfortable doing it," Gasol continued,
"To me it was little clownish. The
sponsor insisted and insisted. They pushed because they're the people
that pay the money. It was just a bad idea to do that. It was never
intended to be offensive or racist against anybody."
A spokeswoman for the International Olympic
Committee, said the apology was accepted stating, "We understand that the Spanish team intended no offense and
has apologized. The matter rests there as far as the I.O.C. is