Pau Gasol and Rafael Nadal Team up to Raise More Than $12 Million for People Affected by Coronavirus in Spain: 'We Can't Let Them Down'

NBA star Pau Gasol and tennis great Rafael Nadal are hoping to raise more than $12 million to donate to their native Spain, which has been ravaged by the coronavirus outbreak. As of Friday morning, Spain has recorded 4,365 deaths — the second-highest tally in the world, behind Italy.

Almost 58,000 cases have been recorded in the country — the fourth-highest number of cases in the world, behind the U.S., China and Italy — and more than 7,000 people have recovered, according to Johns Hopkins University, which has been tracking the outbreak using combined data sources.

"The Spanish people have never let us athletes down," Nadal was quoted as saying by France24. "We are what we are because of them. We cannot let them down now."

The 19-time Grand Slam winner, who is the world No. 2, said he conjured the initiative and immediately reached out to Gasol, whom he's been friends with for years.

The 39-year-old, who won two NBA titles and was a six-time All-Star during an 18-year spell in the league, echoed Nadal's message.

"Spanish athletes have always tried to make our nation proud, today we want to go beyond that," he explained "We want to raise €11 million ($12.3 million) and help 1.34 million people, those hardest hit by coronavirus. My contribution and Rafa's too have already been made and I hope the whole of Spanish sport will rally behind us."

The campaign received immediate support from former Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas, who announced on Twitter he had contributed.

"It's the time for Spanish sport and it's up to us to do our part," Casillas, who won the 2010 World Cup with Spain, wrote on Twitter. "I have already contributed."

Nadal and Gasol's respective sports have both been proactive in raising funds for communities hit by the coronavirus outbreak.

On Wednesday, Roger Federer and his wife, Mirka, donated $1 million to support the "most vulnerable families in Switzerland" and urged others to follow his example.

"These are challenging times for everyone and nobody should be left behind," the 20-time Grand Slam winner wrote on Instagram.

"Our contribution is just a start. We hope that others might join in supporting more families in need. Together we can overcome this crisis! Stay healthy!"

Last week, reigning Wimbledon champion Simona Halep announced on Facebook she would make a donation to fund the purchase of medical equipment in his native Romania.

Meanwhile, the NBA players have also dug deep into their own pockets to help.

On Thursday night, Houston Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni donated $100,000 to a Houston-based COVID-19 Recovery Fund. Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry and his wife, Ayesha, donated 1 million meals to a food bank in the Oakland area, while Chicago Bulls guard Zach LaVine pledged 12,500 meals to a food bank in Seattle.

Meanwhile, the Portland Trail Blazers have set up a fund to cover $1.4 million worth of wages for 1,000 arena workers, who face layoffs or furloughs with the NBA season suspended indefinitely.

Reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, 2019 first overall draft pick Zion Williamson and Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love have also chipped to help arena employees, each donating $100,000 to workers at their respective home arenas.

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal of Spain celebrates after winning the final singles match against Taylor Fritz of the United States during Day 6 of the ATP Mexican Open at Princess Mundo Imperial on February 29 in Acapulco, Mexico. Hector Vivas/Getty