Spain’s Olympic Players Defend Controversial Photo

The Associated Press reports that player’s on Spain’s Olympic basketball team defended a photo in an ad showing the players using their fingers to apparently make their eyes look more Chinese. The photo was part of a publicity campaign for team sponsor Seur and is only being used in Spain.

Spain’s Pau Gasol, centre for the Los Angeles Lakers said, “it was something like supposed to be funny or something but never offensive in any way. I’m sorry if anybody thought or took it the wrong way and thought it was offensive”.

Point Guard Jose Manuel Calderon said the team was responding to a request from the photographer. He said, “we felt it was something appropriate and that it would be interpreted as an affectionate gesture. Without a doubt, some…press didn’t see it that way”.

Juan Antonio Villaneuva, communications director for Madrid 2016 said, “we’re surprised by the remarks of racism. Spain is not a racist country, quite the opposite”.

Madrid is bidding for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, but as Rob Livingstone, founder and publisher of told ABC News Tuesday, poor judgment by a small group of Spanish athletes is unlikely to derail the city’s bid.

He said, “typically these kinds of things have little impact on the bids themselves”, citing a voting body of 100 members driven by a broad range of political and business agendas – not individual incidents, however unflattering they may be.

Livingstone added, “lots of people are asking ‘how is this going to impact Madrid 2016?’ My reaction is it won’t. Whether or not it should is another issue”.

He cited an example of Beijing facing stiff criticism for its human rights record in Tibet from the moment it expressed interest in hosting the Games, right through today’s Olympic action, reports ABC.