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Saturday, July 13, 2024

Scheduling conflicts in Tokyo force Team PH to choose new flagbearer

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Another flagbearer will have to be selected from the among the nine male athletes in the Philippine delegation to the Tokyo Olympics as pole vaulter Ernest John “EJ” Obiena can’t join Fil-Japanese judoka Kiyomi Watanabe in doing flagbearing duties during the Parade of Nations on July 23.

Ernest John Obiena

Tokyo organizers are now requiring all flagbearers to be present in Tokyo some 48 hours before the opening rites at the Olympic Stadium.

And with Obiena arriving at noontime on the day of the opening ceremonies, flagbearing duties may not be possible as he could encounter delays that could go as much as five hours at the airport.  

Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham Tolentino said they have already informed the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association of their decision to relieve Obiena off his duties.

“I have told the PATAFA of this development, na malamang, mag-iba ng flag-bearer,” said Tolentino during Tuesday’s weekly virtual session of the PSA Forum.

Tolentino said they have asked the PATAFA if Obiena’s arrival could be rebooked to an earlier date, but this was not possible.

The POC chief said they will not risk having Obiena get stuck at their airport, hours before the opening ceremony.

Obiena, who is no. 6 in the Olympic rankings of the men’s pole vault, will now have to give way to any of the eight male athletes who will not have practice sessions and competitions the following day. 

Because gymnast Carlos Yulo won’t be available, choices have been narrowed down to  boxers Eumir Felix Marcial and Carlo Paalam, rower Cris Nievarez, taekwondo jin Kurt Barbosa, shooter Jayson Gonzales and golfer Juvic Pagunsan.

Philippine officials and members of the secretariat who are already in Tokyo reported of delays experienced by delegates at the airport.

Online registration requirements have slowed a lot of delegates as they leave the airport go to the Athletes’ Village.

“Maraming bottlenecks upon arrival. And many take around five hours to get through this at the airport,” said Tolentino.

Organizers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics are  restricting attendance at the games’ opening ceremony to a limited number of VIPs, according to reports.

The curtain-raiser at the 68,000-seat main stadium will be watched only by people connected to sponsors, along with diplomats and other special guests.

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