TOKYO — Players on the Mexican softball team apologized on Friday for leaving team gear with the country’s flag in the trash before returning home from the Tokyo Olympics — actions that drew the ire of their own federation, other Mexican Olympians and fans.
“We are sorry that the actions of our team have caused such disappointment for our supporters and Olympic fans across the country,” the pitcher Danielle O’Toole wrote on Instagram in English and Spanish. O’Toole was a pitcher for the University of Arizona.
“We have been proud to wear Mexico’s colors, and to give other young girls of Mexican heritage hope and inspiration,” the statement continued. “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.”
The day before, the Mexican boxers Brianda Tamara and Esmeralda Falcón posted photos of Team Mexico gear they said was left in clear bags for trash in Tokyo. In the photos, there are empty soda bottles and coffee cups mixed in with a fielder’s mitt and what look like team jackets and shirts.
“This uniform represents years of effort, sacrifice and tears,” wrote Tamara, who first posted about the discoveries. “All Mexican athletes yearn to carry it with dignity. And today, sadly, the Mexican softball team left it all in the trash of the Olympic Village.”
Fans responded angrily, too. Some even crudely questioning the heritages of members of the softball team. Many of the players are Mexican American and went to high school and college in the United States. Some even previously played for U.S. national teams.
The team, Mexico’s first for Olympic softball, lost to Canada 3-2 to finish fourth.
Responding to the outcry, the Mexican softball federation issued a strongly worded statement on Friday morning Tokyo time saying it was upset with the players responsible.
“We will conduct an investigation to find those responsible, applying the appropriate sanctions and ensuring that they no longer represent the federation,” the statement read in part.
In earlier comments to the Olympic broadcaster TV Azteca, Rolando Guerrero, president of the Mexico Softball Federation, said players were given nine sets of apparel and were unable to fit it all in their suitcases, particularly because of the space taken up by bats, gloves and other equipment.
Carlos Padilla, president of Mexico’s Olympic Committee, told ESPN Deportes that the players took the bedspreads from their rooms instead of the official gear. The report also noted additional equipment was found in the garbage, including the opening ceremony apparel and sneakers.
O’Toole’s statement said the players took home as much as they each could fit in their one suitcase, including “all of our game uniforms, embroidered apparel, and softball equipment.” She added that she and her teammates didn’t mean to give an impression of disrespect.
“We will work to do better and be better,” she said.
In its later statement, the Mexican softball federation said the amount of equipment players needed to carry wasn’t a valid reason for their actions. It also apologized to all of Mexico.