Mexico’s Chelsea Gonzales hits a single in the sixth inning of a softball game against Canada at the 2020 Summer Olympics on Tuesday, July 27, 2021, in Yokohama, Japan (AP Photo / Sue Ogrocki)
On July 4, the Mexican Olympic Committee tweeted several photos of its softball players approving the delivery of their official clothing for the Tokyo Games, with piles of cardboard in the background.
On Thursday in Tokyo, the equipment was pictured again on Twitter – in trash bags on the floor of the Athletes’ Village.
Two Mexican boxers posted photos of the softball team’s red, white and green Olympic clothing stuffed in clear bags with other trash on Twitter, adding posts criticizing the players for leaving them behind. All but one of the 15 women roster were born in the United States and all 15 played softball at NCAA Division I colleges, including pitcher Danielle O’Toole and outfielder Stefania Aradillas at the State of San Diego.
The players, most of whom have returned to the United States, have remained silent on social media. Rolando Guerrero, president of the Mexican Softball Federation, spoke in an interview with Olympic television channel TV Azteca, saying the players received nine sets of clothing – three in red, white and green – and that they were not able to pack them all without incurring overweight luggage. loads at the airport, especially with their poles, gloves and crampons.
Most have flown with the Japanese airline ANA, which allows two bags of up to 50 pounds each in economy class. The excess baggage charge is $ 60 for 20 pounds over and $ 200 for anything over.
“With all due respect,” Guerrero told TV Azteca, “we’re not going to attack anyone, we’re not going to respond, we’re not going to say anything on social media. It was just a question. overweight baggage fee.… It’s not that big a deal They left one or two (sets).
Mario Garcia, head of the Mexican delegation in Tokyo, was not so understanding. He opened an investigation and said he would consider sanctions against any offending party.
“I think it’s an offense to our national identity,” Garcia told Mediotiempo. “We would have liked that not to happen, because the Mexican Olympic Committee defended this biculturalism that the team had.”
Mexico finished fourth in the six-team tournament in their Olympic softball debut, losing 3-2 to Canada in the bronze medal game played Tuesday afternoon in Tokyo (late Monday in the night, Pacific Time). Athletes must leave Japan within 48 hours of their last event, and boxers Brianda Tamara and Esmeralda Falcon have posted photos on social media of what they left behind.
“This uniform represents years of effort, sacrifice and tears,” Tamara tweeted in Spanish with accompanying photos. “All Mexican athletes aspire to wear it with dignity, and today the Mexican softball team has unfortunately left everything in the trash of the Olympic Village.”
“Are you sure?” someone tweeted it.
“I’m sure,” Tamara replied, with another photo of a green “Mexico softball” T-shirt on top of a garbage bag.
About 15 minutes later, Falcon released photos showing at least four bags of red, white and green gear. In one, the clothes were mixed between a discarded cup of coffee, an empty plastic Coke bottle and a leather glove.
“Maybe to some of the other athletes it means ‘nothing’,” Falcon wrote. “These uniforms for many others represent our years of hard work, dedication, love and passion. Too bad the Mexican softball team doesn’t see it that way.
The team has come under scrutiny on both sides of the border for its American roots. When Mexico faced the United States in the pool, American Ken Eriksen joked, “You just had to play a national anthem today. “
Aradillas is the only player born in Mexico and she admits that only a few teammates speak fluent Spanish. The predominant language on the team is English, she says, “because it’s easier”.
One of those who speaks Spanish is Sashel Palacios, who grew up in Chula Vista and attended Otay Ranch High School. She said she would not play for another country even if the United States offered it, noting that her father played baseball in Mexico before moving to South Bay. But not everyone has such strong ties to Mexico, creating a difficult relationship with the country they represent.
“We have received criticism,” Palacios recently told ESPN Deportes. “For example, we were in Puerto Vallarta in a camp and a few of us spoke Spanish but most didn’t, and people were telling us things because we didn’t speak the language or we didn’t speak the language. were not born in Mexico. But we have to focus on the whole picture, we are playing for our families who have not had the opportunity that we have today to play this sport and to bring it to this level.
O’Toole, Dallas Escobedo and Sydney Romero all played for the U.S. National Team before being cut and changing allegiance to Mexico. International rules require that only one of the four grandparents have Mexican citizenship to be eligible.
“It is truly an honor to represent the United States in softball,” said Romero, who grew up in Temecula, in his USA Softball biography. “Carrying the United States across my chest is a dream come true. “
In O’Toole’s USA Softball bio, she is quoted: “To be able to play alongside the best and represent the best country in the world is incredibly humbling and special.”
None of the players were available for comment and none had posted about the allegations on social media (several have accounts that are not public). Juan Landa, listed by Tokyo organizers as the Mexico City Olympic Committee media liaison, did not respond to an email.
Asked during the Olympics about the criticism at home, Aradillas told the Union-Tribune: “He’s always going to talk about our team. It means that we are doing great things together. We’re just very lucky to have the attention right now and to be at the Olympics, the biggest stage in sport. We take advantage of it.
“It doesn’t matter where we were born or what language we speak. We represent a country and I think we are doing it well.
—Mark Zeigler, The San Diego Union-Tribune
Mexico Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics USA