RIO DE JANEIRO – Members of the Philippine delegation to this Rio Olympics, including 9 athletes, their coaches and just a handful officials, gathered at the Pinoy quarters on Friday evening, July 29 for a one hour meeting.
Chef-de-mission Jose Romasanta wanted to make sure everybody’s on the same page, from the procedures to be observed in the formal flag-raising ceremony on August 2 inside the Athletes Village to the opening ceremony on August 5 at the Maracana Stadium.
For both events, Romasanta asked everybody to wear their barong.
Romasanta also briefed the delegation members on the steps to be taken in case any untoward incident happens.
“Presence of mind is always most important. Security will always be a problem when over 200 countries congregate. So, be aware and be prepared for anything that might happen,” he said.
Colonel Jeff Tamayo of the Philippine Olympic Committee, a security expert and consultant back home, also issued some advice just in case anything goes wrong.
“Never keep your guard down. As we gather at the stadium, we need to identify a safe haven for us, a place where we will meet in case something happens,” he said.
A couple of Filipino coaches, Nolito “Boy” Velasco of boxing and Alfonsito Aldanete of weightlifting, are members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and should know the procedure.
“We remind the coaches to also take care of the athletes,” Romasanta said.
Media concerns were also raised during the meeting, and athletes, coaches and officials were told to make themselves available to the media as long as it doesn’t interfere with their training.
Philippine media seeking live interviews from back home will have to be the ones to adjust their desired schedule and not the other way around.
“They must be reminded that there’s a 13-hour time difference between Rio and Manila. What is early in the evening in Manila may be too early in the morning here,” said the chef-de-mission.
“We don’t need to wake the athletes up at 5 or 6 in the morning for an interview,” he added.
Lastly, Romasanta reminded the athletes of the message from President Rodrigo Duterte before the delegation left Manila for Rio de Janeiro.
“Just give your best,” was the President’s message.
“You have already made the country proud by being here. So, don’t pressure yourself. Medals will come as a matter of course. Just give your best and enjoy the moment,” said Romasanta. – pool report by Gilbert Cordero/Rappler.com
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