MANILA, Philippines – The escalating coronavirus pandemic has greatly affected the Tokyo 2020 Olympics preparations of Filipino pole vaulter EJ Obiena with the cancelation of several sports events.
“It’s a bit nerve-wracking [since I] haven’t been able to compete, but we have contingency plans if things do go south,” Obiena told Rappler.
Obiena, who was the first Filipino to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, was supposed to compete in the Asian Indoor Athletics Championship in February and the World Indoor Athletics Championship in March.
However, both tournaments were canceled as they were hosted in China, where the coronavirus was first confirmed.
Now, the 24-year-old based in Italy faces a lockdown in Europe, which was declared the new epicenter of the deadly virus by the World Health Organization.
According to Obiena, all athletes went through testing and are allowed to train as long as they stay indoors most of the time.
“We are told to not go out. People who stay inside are not allowed to go out and people from the outside are not allowed to go in,” said Obiena, who assured he was far from the mainly affected areas.
The Filipino athletics star will continue waiting for his season to start and will stay put for further annoucements regarding his next competitions.
Obiena surpassed his personal records thrice in 2019 and made the Olympic cut with a height of 5.81m last September. (READ: Dream come true: EJ Obiena caps off stellar year with SEA Games gold)
He also bagged the elusive 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games gold in front of the home crowd in New Clark City.
In the Philippines, there are 142 confirmed coronavirus cases, 12 deaths and total of 3 recoveries as on Monday night, March 16.
Globally, the virus has infected more than 181,000 people and claimed 7,100 lives. – Rappler.com