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Competitors Dive Through the Living Room to Keep the Balloon up in the Inaugural Balloon World Cup

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We’ve all been there: there’s a party, there are balloons, and one person begins to try to keep the gently falling spheres from hitting the floor—this urge spreads throughout the room until moms and dads begin to try to break up the fun after a youngster knocks over a piece of furniture.

Yes, balloon keep-up is a fun game to play, but a TikTok video of a brother and sister playing it during quarantine has inspired a worldwide athletic championship with a funny degree of seriousness.

Peru won the inaugural Balloon World Cup, defeating Germany 6-2 in the final in front of a sold-out audience and 8 million twitch streamers—roughly 4 million more than watched Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao on Pay Per View.

The game featured 32 countries, including Antonio and Diego Arredondo, two Oregon boys who, along with their sister Isabel, inspired the game with a popular video on social media.

“We used to play the game as youngsters, and then we wanted to play it again when the COVID quarantine started,” said Antonio Arredondo.

He stated that they started using slow-motion cameras to ensure the siblings knew who let the balloon on the floor, making their diving-across-the-sofa saves all the more spectacular.

Ibai Llanos, a celebrity Spanish sports streamer, and Gerard Pique, a central defender for Barcelona FC and Spain, were among those who enjoyed their video. Pique said that if Llanos’ tweet about how the Arredondo’s balloon game should have its own World Cup received 50k retweets, he would organize the tournament himself. It received far more than $50,000.

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This sporting revolution takes place on an 8-by-8-meter court covered under glass and stocked with living room furniture to replicate the real thing. The rules are simple: athletes can strike the balloon in any way they wish as long as it travels straight or up (no spiking permitted), and then it’s up to their opponents to keep it going. If it lands on the ground, you get a point.

Pique planned it for Tarragona, Peru, and even managed to acquire some high-value sponsorship, as seen by a Renault hatchback parked in the middle of the playing field without explanation in the later rounds.

Llanos supplied the commentary, which is just as adrenaline-pumping as soccer commentary if you close your eyes. On Llanos’ YouTube channel, all of the matches are neatly and expertly organized, and the highlights are a lot of fun.

A German was in the final, just like in the real World Cup. But it was to the delight of the host nation that Francesco De La Cruz, a hometown hero, became the first-ever champion after defeating Jan Spiess.

“I am very, very delighted,” the Peruvian adolescent added. “I thank God that I have been able to do this.”

VAR was used throughout the tournament, and a veteran La Liga referee was called upon to officiate the matches, drawing a small box in the air regularly to check the slow-motion replay.

Pique was in the commentary box, giving his thoughts on the nascent sport as if he were an expert.