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Not a good idea, Madrid bid says of Spanish ad

August 14, 2008 | 10:05 am

A man in Madrid, on August 13, 2008, looks at an advertisement that appeared in the Spanish daily sports newspaper Marca featuring Spain´s national basketball team members in uniform pulling back the skin on their eyelids, and smiling. The controversial photo is making the rounds on the Internet, and may be considered racially insensitive.

BEIJING -- Members of the Madrid committee that is competing against Chicago, Rio and Tokyo for the right to host the 2016 Summer Olympics were not pleased with the Spanish basketball team's slit-eyed advertisement, which the players said they thought would endear them to the Chinese people.


That was basically the reaction of the Madrid bidders, who said it wouldn't impact their efforts.

Madrid 2016 Chief Executive Mercedes Coghen told the Around the Rings website (subscription required) that the advertising for a Spanish courier company were a "misunderstanding.''

“It was not a good idea. They thought it was a friendly gesture,'' Coghen told the website.

She said it was a misunderstanding and added:

"I don’t think it’s going to be important for us.

“Our countries have been friends for years and years. We talk about inclusiveness in our bid. It’s the Games of the people, and we are trying to promote Olympic values.”

But this incident, along with others perceived to be racist in soccer and auto racing, are not going to help the Spanish cause. Too bad, because Madrid would be a great place to attend the Olympics, perhaps even on the same level that Barcelona was in 1992.

-- Randy Harvey

photo by Miguel Riopa/AFP/Getty Images