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EJ, Kiyomi PH flagbearers in Tokyo games

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Pole vaulter Ernest John “EJ” Obiena and Fil-Japanese judo Kiyomi Watanabe won’t have a busy schedule the day after the opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.

And this made them the ideal choices as flagbearers for the Philippine delegation during the Parade of Nations of the Olympics on July 23.

Obiena, who climbed to no. 6 in the Olympic rankings of men’s pole vault, will be in Tokyo by noontime on the day of the opening rites and will available for the evening rites at the Olympic Stadium.

As for Watanabe, she is already based in Tokyo and will not have trouble moving around and meeting up with members of the Philippine delegation.

Her competition is days away and the Cebu-born Watanabe will have easy time adjusting her schedules.

Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham Tolentino said this as he explained the selection process during a virtual conference on Thursday.

“It’s because of their schedule. As for the others, their practice schedules could be affected,” said Tolentino.  

The POC chief said gymnast Carlos Yulo and skateboarder Margielyn were among the initial bets to become flagbearers.

But they were scheduled to compete the following day of the opening rites, so they were dropped from the list of candidates.

Chef de mission Mariano Araneta Jr., who will lead a first batch of officials flying to Tokyo via Narita Airport on July 15, is among the six delegates representing the Philippines during the parade with the flagbearers.

They will be joined by Philippine Judo Federation president Dave Carter, boxing coach Nolito Velasco, skateboarding coach Daniel Velasco, Philippine Swimming Inc. president Lani Velasco, and Cynthia Carrion of gymnastics.

Joining Araneta in the advance party are team doctor Randy Molo, POC general manager and Secondary Olympic Attache Dinah Remolacio.

Atty. Billy Sumagui will also be with the group, assigned as the COVID-19 Liaison Officer with  Martin Gregorio. Peter Atencio


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