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 affect their efforts.
Madrid 2016 Chief Executive Mercedes Coghen told the Around the Rings website that the advertising for a Spanish courier company was 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
Bart Conner, a 1984 Olympic gymnastics gold medalist for the United States, says the age controversy involving the Chinese female gymnasts is being misinterpreted.
There have been several recent media reports, including one by The Times' Diane Pucin, that detail conflicting evidence about the birth dates of two members of the gold-medal Chinese team, suggesting they actually are below the minimum age limit -- 16 in the calendar year of the competition.
The United States was second in Wednesday's team competition.
"It is insinuating that younger is better," Conner said, "but it's not like we left home a lot of 15-year-olds who could beat those Chinese kids.
"I marvel at how good the Chinese have become at such a young age. It's remarkable."
This debate has been going on, incidentally, since Conner's wife, Nadia Comaneci of Romania, dazzled the world as a 14-year-old "perfect 10" pixie for the scores she got while winning three gold medals at the 1976 Olympics.
-- Philip Hersh
I haven't been to all the Olympic venues yet, but I've been to enough to know that the Fengtai Sports Center, home to the softball competition, plays the best music.
The soundtrack at the beach volleyball venue, whatever it is, is far too loud. And at water polo, it's too cliched and trite -- the theme from "Jaws" is big there, and when the U.S. wins they play "Born in the USA."
The Wukesong sports center, where baseball is played, gets points for keeping Shakira's "Hips Don't Lie" in heavy rotation but loses them for playing both the "Hamster Dance" and poorly done covers of Beatles' songs, sins that are being repeated at the Workers Gymnasium, where boxing is held.
That brings us back to the softball venue, which got points for both taste and creativity when its DJ played the Nelly-Kelly Rowland duet "Dilemma" during Thursday's lengthy rain delay.
-- Kevin Baxter