After two losses to Venezuela and then to Canada, the Cuban baseball team, the island’s national sport, missed the Olympics for the first time in its history, causing panic in the country.
“Victims of fierce harassment by a handful of mercenaries, our players put their dignity first,” President Miguel Diaz-Canel wrote on Twitter on Wednesday, referring to members of the Florida public who launched several banners and chanted slogans critical of the Cuban government during matches.
In a letter to the World Baseball Federation, the Cuban Federation formally protested on Monday, deeming it “unacceptable that persons contrary to the spirit of a sporting event disrupt the team’s focus.” […] Carrying banners and throwing violations.
Coach Armando Ferrer told the local press that the exclusion was “painful”.
“We all know what a joy it would have been for people exercising in their veins, so we’re sorry we didn’t qualify,” he told online sports media.
“The dream of living a baseball game in Tokyo 2020 has now become a nightmare for Cuba,” the Cuban news agency Prensa Latina admitted.
Cuba won Olympic champions in Barcelona in 1992, Atlanta in 1996 and Athens in 2004, and has also won 25 world titles in the sport.
The team, which only secured US visas at the last minute, was hit hard on its arrival in Florida with a desertion, just hours after landing Cesar Prieto, considered one of the top talents in Cuban baseball.
Baseball/softball returns to the Olympics this year, for the first time since the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
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