Team USA’s beach volleyball team suffered a controversial loss to Canada in the knockout stages of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics on Saturday.
The American pair of Kelly Claes and Sarah Sponcil, ranked third in the world by the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB), won the first set 24-22. They then gave up a 10-4 lead in the second set, in which Canadians Brandie Wilkerson and Heather Bansley, ranked 16th, finally won 21-18. That sent the match into the fateful third set, with the winning team needing just 15 points to advance.
Claes and Sponcil were behind Canada 12-11 in the final set: Officials initially ruled out a Sponcil serve on Team USA, giving Canada a 13-11 lead. But Team USA challenged the decision, prompting a reversal of the decision and giving the United States the game-tying point at 12. Below is the review in question:
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However, the problem arose after the reversal: the Canadian team approached the referee and challenged his decision, triggered by the previous challenge from the US team.After a pause, the referee reversed the decision and awarded him the point to Team USA, giving Canada a 13-11 lead.
According to a report by Chris Marlowe of NBC Olympics, the official called the ball in the Team USA challenge, but just the wrong button:
I just got a post-match report from Sponcil / Claes. According to our man Dain Blanton, the ball was ruled out in the challenge, but the operator made a mistake and pressed the wrong button, the one saying the challenge was successful. The referee corrected the mistake, and that was what
– Chris Marlowe (@ChrisMarlowe) August 1, 2021
Sponcil argued with the referee for several moments before receiving a yellow card, prompting Team USA to play again. That was ultimately the turning point in the match, as Canada finished with a 15-13 victory in the final set.
The full sequence, which wasn’t explained until long after the fact, left Twitter confused and outraged as users tried to make sense of what happened:
So in beach volleyball, the United States challenged, won, and then Canada challenged the challenge and won. I do not understand it at all. Claes and Sponcil either.
– Maggie Hendricks (@maggiehendricks) August 1, 2021
Wait, can you challenge a beach volleyball challenge now?#Olympic Games
– Katie Cavender 👩🏻💻 (@KatieCavender) August 1, 2021
The United States was repressed by officials. It is inside or outside. Once a decision is made, that should be so. I don’t understand how Canada could question the outcome of a challenge. #Beach volleyball
– Anthony D’Agostino (@ADagostinoTV) August 1, 2021
Beach volleyball is one of my favorite Olympic sports to watch, and I just saw Claes / Sponcil get robbed. How can you challenge a challenge that overrides the original call?
– Drake (@ driizzy808) August 1, 2021
I think I just saw the dumbest review in the history of the sport on this beach volleyball game.
US Challenges, Call Revoked
Canada defies the challenge (?) And the challenge is canceled (?!)
– Brandon Armstrong (@chubs_kgun) August 1, 2021
okay #Beach volleyball fans: As someone who has been involved and a fan of all volleyball for their entire life, can anyone please explain to me how you can make a successful challenge challenged and then considered a failed challenge? @NBCOlympics #U.S. Team # Tokio2020
– Molly Hogan (@MiMiHogan) August 1, 2021
I’m still sitting here trying to figure out what just happened to America. #Beach volleyball.
Challenges of the United States.
Canada defies the challenge (???)
Ref overturn the overturn (!!!)
The United States gets a yellow card for saying it’s stupid. pic.twitter.com/S6VmVSapkf
– Micah Rumsey (@MicahRumsey) August 1, 2021
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.