Members of Blacktip Island’s Olympic beer pong team practice Tuesday night prior to learning they would not compete this summer due to the Tokyo Olympics being cancelled. (photo courtesy of Peachy Bottoms)
The Blacktip Island Olympic beer pong team’s hopes of glory were crushed Wednesday by the International Olympic Committee’s decision to cancel the 2020 Summer Olympics due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a team spokesperson said.
“We’re gutted right now and, frankly, in a bit of denial,” coach Peachy Bottoms said. “We’ve been training so hard. We were favored to win team and individual medals. Now all that hard work’s been for nothing.
“We understand the global health need, but it still hurts,” Bottoms said. “The Olympic Committee made the decision, and we’re abiding by it. The only question now is when, or if, the games’ll be rescheduled.”
Team members expressed their own frustrations
“We worked our tails off, mostly in the evenings,” Antonio Fletcher said. “Gave up dominoes to train for this. Had uniforms and everything. Now the bigwigs just smacked all of us right in the mouth.
“Gonna keep training, I reckon, and hope for the best,” Fletcher said. “The worry isn’t if we’ll lose our skills. Those’re drilled in. Some of us’ll lose our focus, our mental edge, though. Might never bounce back.”
Others were more outspoken.
“Mentally, most team members are hanging on by a thread as it is,” team member Alison Diesel said. “We can’t just lie down and take this. We’re protesting like hell. Of course, we can’t leave the island, so not many people’ve noticed.
“We got a picket line in front of the Sand Spit bar, where we train, so the committee can see how hacked off we are,” Diesel said. “It’s streaming online, but we’ve only had seven viewers so far. That’s doubly depressing. But we’re not giving up hope.”
Some in the community see the cancellation as politically motivated.
“This was our big chance to put Blacktip Island, and the Tiperons, on the map,” Reg Gurnard said. “Our team’s damned good. The Olympic Committee knows it, too, and is scared of us. This isn’t about health, it’s about protecting the big guys and denying the Tiperons their first-ever medal.”
Others hoped for a compromise with the committee.
“If we know the risk and are still willing to take it, that should be enough to open the games,” team member Leah Shore said. “It’ll all be on us. Give us our shot and we’ll stay there in quarantine as long as necessary.
“We don’t want a two-week stay in Tokyo at someone else’s expense,” Shore said. “But for team and country, that’s a sacrifice we’re willing to make.”