Rep. Abraham Tolentino : The health and safety of athletes, officials and stakeholders are paramount in these difficult times.

PHILIPPINE Olympic Committee (POC) President Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino on Tuesday sought the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics saying the health and safety of athletes, officials and stakeholders should be guaranteed against the new coronavirus.

“I favor a postponement because the health and safety of everyone in sports—both in the Philippines and all over the world—is paramount in this Covid-19 pandemic,” Tolentino said. “The POC advises all athletes, coaches, officials and stakeholders to stay safe, stay at home and observe government and health department protocols so we could defeat this virus.

The clamor to postpone the Olympics—which Tokyo is hosting from July 24 to August 9—grew by the day and there are strong indications that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Tokyo organizers are heeding the call.

On Monday, reports from all over the world raced toward the same conclusion: The Tokyo Olympics are not going to take place this summer. Canada and Australia told the IOC that they are no longer sending athletes to the Games that are four months away while top officials in the US are heeding the call of their athletes to move the Games.

Tolentino, while he is for postponement, stressed 2021 would be ideal. Cancellation, he said, is not in his vocabulary.

The cycling president said a postponement would augur well for Filipino athletes.

“It’s better to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Olympics rather than cancellation so as not to lose [Philippines] our chance for our first gold medal—or even more golds,” he said. “[If the Games are postponed] more Filipinos have more chance to qualify.”

A postponement, Tolentino explained, would give more time for training for Filipino athletes who have already qualified and also for those who are still trying to earn tickets to Tokyo 2020.

Four Filipinos have so far qualified for the Olympics—world champion gymnast Carlos Yulo, pole vaulter EJ Obiena and boxers Eumir Felix Marcial and Irish Magno.

Among those hoping to qualify for Tokyo 2020 are Rio 2016 weightlifting silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz, women’s world boxing champion Nesthy Petecio, 30th Southeast Asian Games gold-medal winning taekwondo jins Pauline Lopez, Kurt Barbosa, Samuel Morrison and Arven Alcantara and Rio 2016 campaigner Kirstie Elaine Alora and cyclists Daniel Caluag (BMX) and Arianna Dormitorio (mountain bike).

Also on the list are sprinter Kristina Knott and thrower William Morrison and judoka Kiyomi Watanebe and Asian Games skateboarding gold medalist Margielyn Didal.

The Philippines is also hoping to qualify athletes in karatedo, shooting and swimming (compulsory slots).

Team Philippines Chef de Mission to Tokyo 2020 Nonong Araneta also said postponing the Olympics in July serves the best interest of all athletes.

“It’s reasonable to postpone the Games,” Araneta said. “It will be difficult for our athletes to prepare for the Olympics because the focus should shift to the safety of all.”
Lockdowns are now enforced in many countries, thus hampering the training and transit of athletes. Major competitions, especially Olympic qualifiers, have also been postponed or canceled.

Magno, a first-time Olympian, headed directly to the Philippine Sports Commission facility in Baguio City after returning home from Amman, which hosted the Asian qualifier.

A postponement, Magno told the BusinessMirror, would mean a longer preparation for her and Marcial, and also for the other boxers who are joining other qualifiers. With Ramon Rafael Bonilla


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