Furor Over Spain's Racist Basketball Photo Only Incidental To Madrid 2016

Several media sources are reporting that Madrid’s bid for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games could be affected after its basketball team was accused of making racist gestures. It seems a sponsor of the Spanish Basketball Federation published a good-luck advertisement for their men’s basketball team competing at the Olympics, in which they stand, pulling at the sides of their eyes in a “slit-eyed” gesture. The full-page advertisement appeared in Marca, a sports daily that is the country’s best selling newspaper.

According to The Guardian, the use of the picture disregards the possibility that the Chinese may take offense and there may be criticism for Spanish sport and further consequences for the “…Spanish Olympic committee’s continued desire to host the Games in Madrid in 2016 or 2020.”

The advertisement reportedly could also offend Tokyo 2016 officials, one of Madrid’s three rivals for the 2016 Games.

Just hours earlier, Madrid was promoting it’s International Campaign that will continue until October 2009. During the presentation Madrid’s CEO Mercedes Coghen said, “Madrid is a city that wants to do more than aspire to the Olympic ideal; it wants to live those values through the Games with the human touch”.

But despite any offence taken as a result of the Spanish faux pas, the incident won’t likely impact the final 2016 host city vote set to take place 14 months from now. Beijing easily won its bid to host the current Olympic Games amid constant critisizm over human rights abuses and London won the bid for the 2012 Olympic Games after then-Mayor Ken Livingstone was accused of making anti-semitic remarks to a journalist just four months before the final vote. The International Olympic Committee traditionally sets aside controversial events not directly related to the bids.