Gil Asakawa's Nikkei View | Spanish athletes mock Chinese Olympic hosts in photos
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Spanish athletes mock Chinese Olympic hosts in photos

OK, I had to post these two photos, in which Spanish athletes mock Chinese by pulling back their eyes to make them slanty — ha ha ha.

The first is a posed shot of of the Spanish Olympic basketball team. It was used in an ad in a Spanish newspaper, which calls into question not only the photographer, athletes and team management’s judgment, but also the national newspaper’s staff and management. The second photo is of the Spanish tennis team, celebrating after defeating the Chinese to go on to the Fed Cup finals earlier this year.

Man, I haven’t seen that done since I was in grade school — in the mid-1960s, when the expression was “enhanced” by the person sticking out his (or her, apparently) buck teeth and speaking in a heavy, phony Asian accent, saying crap like “ah-so!” and “herro, I solly, no tickee no laundoree.”

You’d think we’d moved past that kind of third-grade cruelty by now, but nope. Not in Spain, anyway.

What were they thinking? Are racial mocking stereotypes acceptable in Spain where they’re frowned upon here? Do Chinese athletes go around finding ways to mock Spanish athletes?

These photos disgust me.

Thanks to Gawker and to Angry Asian Man for being vigilant and bringing these to light.

UPDATE: Here’s JACL‘s well-stated reaction to the basketball team photo.

JACL chides Spanish basketball team for its offensive advertisement pose

Washington, DC — In a August 13 letter to Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, JACL national director Floyd Mori chided the Spanish men’s basketball team for its racially offensive pose in an advertisement in a leading Spanish newspaper.

The advertisement, which shows members of the basketball team pulling back the corners of their eyes, was shot prior to the Olympics for Seur, a courier company that sponsors the team. Mori indicated that the Spanish basketball team performs in the international arena where they come into contact with fans and opposing players from around there world, so there is “an expectation that the Spanish team will regard their opponents and the people of other nations with dignity and respect, especially within a world of human diversity.”

Although the basketball team has apologized for the incident, individuals connected to the team have not apologized, indicating that no harm was meant and that the pose was intended as a joke.

Mori pointed out that the behavior of the Spanish team defies a tenet of the Olympic movement that promotes peace and the preservation of human dignity. Mori went on to say that “it is a lesson that the organizers of the Spanish Olympic Committee need to be mindful of as they pursue their bid to serve as hosts in 2016.” Madrid is one of four sites under consideration for the 2016 Olympics.

By the way, if you think this kind of stuff can’t happen in the U.S., it does, of course — a lot. I’ve written about “ching-chong” incidents (including by Shaquille O’Neal, who mocked Yao Ming in a national interview a few years ago). Here’s a page on the JACL website that lists various incidents just this year when the organization has responded to racial incidents and stereotyping.

AUGUST 18 UPDATES: Here are a couple more respsonses to the Spanish basketball team’s “slant-eyed” photo.

First the Organization of Chinese Americans and the Committee of 100 sent out this objection.

And, LA Times columnist Bill Plaschke wrote this commentary, pointing out that Spanish team member Pau Gasol is also a member of the LA Lakers, and that there’s no excuse:

Pau Gasol didn’t say he was sorry for the racial slight. He said he was sorry if anyone was offended by the racial slight.

That’s not good enough.

Right on.