Philippine Olympic team

EJ Obiena ‘disheartened’ after withdrawal as PH Tokyo Olympics flag bearer

Beatrice Go
EJ Obiena ‘disheartened’ after withdrawal as PH Tokyo Olympics flag bearer

DISHEARTENED. EJ Obiena will be replaced as the Philippines' male flag bearer.

EJ Obiena's Facebook

'We will still be holding our head high and reppin the red, blue and white with pride,' says EJ Obiena

Filipino pole vaulter EJ Obiena confirmed his withdrawal from the privileged duty of carrying the Philippine flag during the opening ceremonies due to new COVID-19 protocols imposed by the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

The Philippine athletics star admitted he was “disheartened” to step down from the honor as his arrival schedule posed a conflict to the guidelines set by the organizing committee.

“I proudly accepted the position to raise the flag of the country I was born and raised in, but there are things that are out of my control. I am greatly disheartened to say the least that I was withdrawn to be the flag bearer for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics due to new protocols and scheduling conflict,” wrote Obiena.

“We will still be holding our head high and reppin the red, blue and white with pride. Thank you for all your support through this tough time, it’s what keeps me going.”

The new protocols pose a conflict in Obiena’s arrival schedule as flag bearers must be in Tokyo 48 hours before the opening ceremonies on Friday, July 23.

The 25-year-old pole vaulter is set to arrive in Tokyo on Friday, 12:30 pm, Japan time, and his travel itinerary can longer be adjusted.

The Tokyo Olympics are set to open at 8 pm, Japan time.


[PODCAST] Targeting Tokyo: EJ Obiena

[PODCAST] Targeting Tokyo: EJ Obiena

Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino will announce a new male flag bearer, who will share the stage with judoka Kiyomi Watanabe.

Boxers Eumir Marcial and Carlo Paalam, golfer Juvic Pagunsan, and swimmer Luke Gebbie have chances to be selected as the new flag bearer based on their training and competition schedules.

Obiena, the first Filipino to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, is a prime medal bet for a podium finish in the biggest global sports showpiece. He will begin his campaign on Saturday, July 31.

The 25-year-old pole vaulter eclipsed the Philippine national record twice in the outdoor season, recording a new mark of 5.87 meters days before the Tokyo Games. –

To discover the stories of our Filipino Olympic hopefuls, subscribe to Rappler Sports podcast Targeting Tokyo on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

Beatrice Go

More commonly known as Bee, Beatrice Go is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Philippine sports governance, national teams, football, and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.