TOKYO—A lean Philippine team will parade at the National Stadium clad in a Rajo Laurel-inspired Barong Tagalog during the opening ceremonies of the Summer Olympic Games here on Friday.
Too bad no one at the sidelines of the 68,000-seat stadium will see it.
The no-spectator Olympiad opens its curtains on Friday in a scaled-down opening ceremony bereft of massive choreography from hundreds of performers.
“We really don’t know how the opening ceremony would be like,” said Team Philippines Chef de Mission Mariano “Nonong” Araneta on Wednesday. “It’s a tightly-kept secret.”
Wearing a cocoon silk barong with a machine-embroidered pitchera design muslin inner shirt and light wool black pants, boxer Eumir Marcial will carry the Philippine tricolors during the parade of nations.
Marcial’s female counterpart in judoka Kiyomi Watanabe will be clad in a cocoon silk short blazer with a machine-embroidered front and sleeves and neoprene spaghetti-strapped black inner blouse and neoprene black pants.
The two were chosen as flagbearers because their events come later in the games, with the middleweight Marcial starting his bid on July 26 and half-middleweight Watanabe entering the mat on July 27.
The barongs were procured by the Philippine Sports Commission under chairman William Ramirez.
Marcial and Watanabe will be joined in the parade of nations by Araneta and coaches Carlos Padilla (taekwondo) Nolito Velasco (boxing) and Daniel Bautista (skateboarding), as well as Philippine Swimming Inc. president Lani Velasco and Gymnastics Association of the Philippines head Carrion-Norton.
They will just be a few of the mere hundreds of participants in the opening ceremonies, scaled down from the initial 10,000 athletes.
The team parade will be smaller, with tight social distancing rules as part of the organizers’ measures to curb the spread of COVID-19.
The result will be an opening ceremony that is going to be unique and focusing only on the athletes.
The opening ceremony would last for three hours and would feature 4,500 participants—athletes and officials (maximum of six from each country)—from 205 member national Olympic commitees. Only North Korea withdrew from the Games.
Araneta, meanwhile, said concerns from transport woes to inadequate Covid-19 test kits were raised by the member NOCs during the chef de mission meeting on Wednesday morning.
“The hosts promised to address problems in transportation after several countries complained that they had to wait at least an hour for their designated shuttle buses to arrive and bring them to their training venues,” Araneta said.
“There was also a problem with the lack of testing kits, especially on Tuesday when a long line was formed because they ran out of kits,” said Araneta, also the president of the Philippine Football Federation.
Another major concern, Araneta said, was the efficiency of the shuttle system after the opening ceremony.
“Imagine bringing 4,500 individuals back to the Olympic Village the soonest possible time?,” he said. “But the hosts vowed to pull it off in one hour.”
There are 11,000 athletes and 7,000 officials in these Games that were postponed for a year because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Covering media is pegged at 15,000.
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