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An Olympic team have apologised after being criticised online for dumping their uniforms in a bin at the Olympic Village.
Uniforms worn by Mexico's softball team were found discarded on Thursday (29 July), following their defeat against Canada on Tuesday in their clash for bronze.
A photo of the garments was shared on Twitter by Mexican boxer Brianda Tamara Cruz, who raged: "This uniform represents years of effort, sacrifice and tears.
"All Mexican athletes yearn to wear it with dignity, and today the Mexican softball team sadly left it all in the garbage of the Olympic villages."
Este uniforme representa años de esfuerzos, sacrificios y lágrimas.
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
- Brianda Tamara (@BriandaTamara) July 29, 2021
Her post has attracted more than 30,000 likes and thousands of retweets, with one person commenting: "I defended the girls after their defeat against Canada and now I find out about this... I do not know what to think, but it is an insult that should not be overlooked and there must be a punishment for the athletes."
Another argued: "Obviously they do not feel Mexican, they do not feel the colors, nor the flag, nor the country, for them it was a pass to the Olympians, simply opportunists."
Quizá para algunos de los compañeros deportistas signifique: "nada" estos uniformes para muchos otros representan nuestros años de trabajo, dedicación, amor y pasión. Que pena que el equipo de softball mexicano no lo vea así.:sob::pensive: @BriandaTamara @CONADE @COM_Mexico @voyxmex pic.twitter.com/nKm905Jk8o
- esmerfalconmx (@esmerfalconmx) July 29, 2021
Some people, however, defended the team - saying they 'are not committing any crime'.
The team have since apologised, saying in a statement: "We are sorry that the actions of our team have caused such disappointment for our supporters and Olympic fans across the country.
"We had no intention of disrespecting our country or our flag. We had no intention of disregarding what being in the Olympics means for so many.
"We took home all of our game uniforms, embroidered apparel and softball equipment - as what we could fit in a single suitcase as required. We understand that is no excuse for giving the impression of disregard for such a historic event. We will work to do better and be better."
While the uniforms were thrown out, it is believed the team chose to leave the games with bedding from the Olympic Village.
The Mexican Olympic Committee expressed disappointment over the incident, with Committee President Carlos Padilla telling ESPN: "It's regrettable that they left behind the uniforms in such an inappropriate place as the garbage in favour of some bedspreads from the Olympic Village."
The country's softball federation also said in a statement on Thursday that it would investigate the matter, adding that players found responsible would no longer represent Mexico.
Rolando Guerrero, the president of Mexico's softball federation and its former head coach, told ESPN that insufficient luggage space was to blame, saying some competitors even left expensive fielding globes behind.
He said: "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.
"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."
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