(AFP) – Aug 13, 2008
BEIJING (AFP) — The Spanish basketball team's controversial pre-Olympic advert where the squad posed making slit-eye gestures was "inappropriate" but no sanctions will be taken, the IOC said Thursday.
In the ad which appeared in sports daily Marca -- which has been widely circulated on the Internet -- the smiling players were standing on centre court as they pulled down the skin around their eyes to make them appear slanted.
"Clearly it was inappropriate, we understand the team has apologised and absolutely meant no offence whatsoever," International Olympic Committee spokeswoman Giselle Davies told reporters.
She added that the IOC considered the matter closed.
The advert has been condemned by international media, and comes as Spain tries to shake off a string of racist sporting incidents that could damage Madrid's bid to host the 2016 summer Games.
Some members of the squad have apologised for the advert, but Toronto Raptors guard Jose Calderon defended the decision.
"During a photo session where the Spanish national team was unveiled, one of our sponsors asked us to pose with a 'wink' to our participation in Beijing and we made an oriental expression with our eyes," he wrote on his Internet site.
"It seemed to us to be something appropriate and that it would always be interpreted as an affectionate gesture," he added.
"I want to express that we have great respect for the Orient and its people, some of my best friends in Toronto are of Chinese origin."
World football governing body FIFA fined the Spanish football federation after fans made monkey chants aimed at England's black football players at a November 2004 friendly international in Madrid.
Last year a handful of Formula One fans targeted British driver Lewis Hamilton during a testing day at Barcelona's Catalunya circuit while four years ago former football national team coach Luis Aragones was caught on tape making a racist remark about French star Thierry Henry.
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