MANILA, Philippines – With the strict health protocols and safety measures imposed at the Tokyo Olympics, the Philippine Olympic Committee has decided to replace pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena as the country’s male flag bearer.
POC Chairman Representative Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino said organizers in Tokyo demanded that athletes nominated to wear their country’s flag arrive in the Japanese capital 48 hours before the opening ceremony on July 23.
Coming from Formia, Italy, Tolentino said Obiena will arrive in Tokyo just hours before the parade of countries on the same day.
“We have been told that changes are happening every day, so we have to adapt to the strict measures,” Tolentino said at the Philippine Sportswriters Association forum on Tuesday.
Aside from the 48-hour window imposed by Tokyo organizers, Tolentino explained that Obiena could experience confusion on arrival where athletes, coaches and officials were forced to wait at least five hours at the finish line. the airport.
“Even though we ask that EJ be allowed to carry the flag, he might not do so due to this bottleneck at the airport,” Tolentino said at the forum sponsored by San Miguel, Pagcor, Go For Gold, PLDT, Milo, Braska and the Amélie hotel.
The opening ceremony is scheduled for 8 p.m., but designated flag bearers would be picked up from the Athletes’ Village two hours before the parade begins.
“I have already informed the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association. We will announce the replacement within the next two days. I need to talk to the coaches and athlete officials first, said Tolentino.
Judoka Kiyomi Watanabe has been named the Philippine team’s women’s flag bearer. Philippine Mission Chief Nonong Araneta, Swimming President Lani Velasco, Judo Chief Dave Carter, Gymnastics Chief Cynthia Carrion, Boxing Coach Nolito Velasco and Skateboarding Coach Daniel Bautista join her at the parade of nations.
Boxers Eumir Marcial and Carlo Paalam, golfer Juvic Pagunsan, swimmer Luke Gebbie and air rifle shooter Jayson Valdez are available as male flag bearers due to the proximity of their competition schedules to the rites of competition. opening.
Tolentino, however, said the arrival times of these athletes would be critical as they must adhere to their respective activity plans for the duration of their stay in Tokyo, as approved by the organizers.
In addition to the 19 athletes, the Philippines team will have a workforce of 60 to 70 during the Olympics, including coaches, nutritionists, physiologists, officials and health protocol staff.
“Just believe in yourself and we’ll win gold (medal) together,” Tolentino told the athletes at Monday’s briefing.
According to Tolentino, swab testing will be carried out daily during the Games which will be played without local and foreign spectators, while athletes and coaches are limited to travel only from the athletes’ village to competition / training venues and vice versa.
“Despite all the challenges, our athletes and officials are all prepared. It’s now just a matter of execution, ” said Tolentino.
Araneta will lead the six-man support group due to leave for Tokyo on July 14 to set up the country’s secretariat at the Conrad Hotel.
The bulk of the contingent will arrive in Tokyo on July 18 with four athletes: taekwondo jin Kurt Barbosa, weightlifter Elreen Ando, rower Cris Nievarez and Valdez from Manila.
The other 15 athletes will depart from their respective training camps abroad.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to access The Philippine Daily Inquirer and over 70 titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download from 4 a.m. and share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.