Beijing, China – A controversial ad has put a pall over the ambitions of the entire Spanish Olympic team, threatening their hopes for medals. The ad depicts both the men’s and women’s basketball teams pulling the edges of their eyes in a universally accepted racist gesture. The ad was officially sanctioned by the Spanish Olympic committee.
Spanish officials have defended the photo, saying that the gesture was a ‘wink to our participation in Beijing’ and that they ‘felt it was something appropriate and that it would always be interpreted as an affectionate gesture’. The rest of the world of course does not see it in quite the same way. During Tuesday’s match between the Chinese and Spanish teams the normally passive Chinese fans loudly booed the Spaniards. Spain won the match.
“It is totally reprehensible that such a thing could go on in today’s world,” said a Chinese Olympic official. “They are insulting not just us, but all persons of Asian descent. It is not totally unexpected as teams from that country have done this type of thing before, but it is totally unacceptable.”
Spanish teams have been hit with racism accusations in the past, particularly in reference to the soccer team and an incident with Arsenal player Thierry Henry. Another incident in 2006 had a Spanish crowd making apes noises whenever Cameroon born player Samuel Eto touched the soccer ball.
“There is an instinct to try and look past these types of things,” continued the official. “But we feel that this disrespect is to large to ignore and we will fight fire with fire.”
To that end, Chinese officials have begun handing out oversized sombreros and free tacos to everyone entering Olympic venues where the Spanish team is present in the hopes of embarrassing the athletes and the Olympic officials. All Olympic workers will also don the sombreros.
“We know how to make an insult that will last, we will not take this lying down.”
Sombreros and burritos though are not Spanish in origin, but instead come from Mexico. While this discrepancy might seem minor to the Chinese, Mexican officials are outraged.
“We have done nothing and are now being subjected to these racist and prejudicial acts. This is untenable and disgraceful,” said a Mexican official. “Are they going to be taking siestas with their burros as well, just to complete the picture?”
When posed with the question, Chinese officials were resolute. “We stand by our decision. It does not matter where things originate, what matters is getting back at them. Besides, no one can tell the difference anyway.”
For their part, the U.S. Olympic team is staying out of the fray. “It seems a little petty to us, but it doesn’t matter to us. Just as long as they don’t come anywhere near our side of the Olympic village with those hats, we don’t want them mixing with our people.”
The IOC has yet to respond to the situation.