The Mexican Olympic Committee expressed disappointment that its softball team appeared to have left the Olympic Games this week with bedding from the Olympic Village rather than with the players' official uniforms and apparel, which were reportedly found in the trash.
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"It's regrettable that they left behind the uniforms in such an inappropriate place as the garbage in favor of some bedspreads from the Olympic Village," committee president Carlos Padilla told ESPN.
The country's softball team, with a roster of 14 American players and one born in Mexico, finished fourth with a 3-2 loss to Canada in Tuesday's bronze-medal game. The Tokyo Olympics were Mexico's first foray into Olympic softball.
In condemning the action, the country's softball federation said in a statement Thursday that it would investigate the matter, and that players found responsible will no longer represent Mexico.
Welterweight boxer Brianda Tamara Cruz, who is representing Mexico in Tokyo, took to social media to post pictures of gear allegedly found in the trash at the Olympic Village, which the committee considers an "affront to the [national] identity" because the uniforms include the Mexican flag on the chest.
Este uniforme representa años de esfuerzos, sacrificios y lágrimas.— Brianda Tamara (@BriandaTamara) July 29, 2021
Todos los deportistas mexicanos anhelamos portarlo dignamente, y hoy tristemente el equipo mexicano de sóftbol lo dejó todo en la basura de las villas olímpicas.@esmerfalconmx @CONADE @COM_Mexico pic.twitter.com/zqkmVva6PP
"This uniform represents years of effort, sacrifice and tears," Cruz's tweet read in Spanish. "All of us who are Mexican athletes yearn to wear it with dignity, and today sadly the Mexican softball team left it in the Olympic Village's trash."
Sources told ESPN Mexico that around 10 additional sets of equipment were found in the garbage, including apparel from the opening ceremony, sneakers and even suitcases.
Rolando Guerrero, the president of Mexico's softball federation and its former head coach, blamed insufficient luggage space for his players' actions and added that some even left behind expensive fielding gloves.
"If it was in the trash and people were sniffing around, they had to make room in their luggage because for a softball team it's not the same packing 33 bats, catchers' equipment, game gear, three uniforms and workout clothes as it is to pack a pair of gloves," Guerrero said. "It's much easier to pack a pair of gloves, all due respect. We won't be going after anyone or responding, or rebutting anything on social media. It was simply a matter of too much cargo."
Mario Garcia, the Mexico Olympic Committee's secretary general, told ESPN Mexico that more could have been done to help the team avoid issues with cargo. The official gear, he said, could have been shipped separately, as was done with the apparel for the opening ceremony.
However, he said, the team also could have eliminated excessive cargo or packed uniforms in carry-on luggage. Garcia added that the team could face further discipline from the committee or even legal sanctions.
Several players responded on Instagram Thursday night, saying they had "no intention of disrespecting our country or our flag."