Spain Getting Flack For Photo
Spain's Olympic basketball team is still apologizing for taking a controversial photo in which all 15 players use their fingers to pull the skin behind their eyes and appear more Asian.
After Spain defeated Germany 72-59 on Thursday morning, Spanish point guard Jose Calderon said the photo, which has been running as an advertisement for a team sponsor in a newspaper in Spain since Friday, was never intended to offend anyone and has been blown out of proportion.
"For sure, we are going to apologize to the people who are hurt by that, but somebody is trying to make a big deal out of something that is not really doing nothing to help nobody," said Calderon, a point guard for the Toronto Raptors. "It's not really a good thing, if you just think a little bit - you don't do nothing bad about the country that you're going to live in for one month. It doesn't make sense."
Los Angeles Lakers forward Paul Gasol told reporters this week that the picture was supposed to be funny, while Calderon said in his personal blog that the players were only meeting a request from a photographer. "One of our sponsors asked us to pose with a "wink" to our participation in Beijing, we made an oriental expression with our eyes," Calderon wrote. "We thought it was something appropriate and that it would always be interpreted as somewhat loving. Nevertheless, some of the European media did not see it this way."
Calderon added that "we have a huge respect for the East." Gasol said that it was "absurd" that people would consider the gesture racist.
The Spanish team is sponsored by Chinese shoe company Li Ning, which is named after the 1984 Olympic gold medallist who soared through National Stadium to light the torch during the opening ceremonies. Frank Zhang, the shoe company's director of government and public affairs, told the Associated Press that it was not a serious issue.
"We don't think this is an insulting gesture to the Chinese," Zhang said. "In fact, the gesture shows that the Spanish team is so humorous, relaxing and cute. They sat around a dragon pattern, which we think showed respect to the Chinese.
"Li Ning Ltd. will not change any business plans with the Spanish team because of this," Zhang added. "People should focus on great Olympic Games instead of something else."
Spain is 3-0 in the Olympics and will face the United States on Saturday.
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