Filipino pole vaulter EJ Obiena may be replaced as the country’s male flag bearer due to new Tokyo 2020 Olympics COVID-19 protocols.
The 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 the travel itinerary can longer be adjusted.
Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino also shared on Tuesday, July 13, in the weekly Philippine Sportswriters Association forum that there is a ‘bottleneck’ for Olympics delegates in the Tokyo airports.
“With the new development sa Tokyo, nakita doon ang ilang bottleneck, ‘yung iba tumatagal ng five hours sa Tokyo airport due to whatever reason,” said Tolentino.
(With the new development in Tokyo, we discovered bottlenecks where some athletes wait for five hours in the Tokyo airport due to whatever reasons.)
This further complicated Obiena’s arrival situation on Friday as the flag bearers will have to start making their way to the Olympic Stadium in Shibuya at 6 pm, Japan time.
The opening ceremonies will start at 8 pm, Japan time.
As is it a requirement for each participating country to have a flag bearer, both male and female, in the opening ceremonies, Tolentino said that they are in the process of selecting a new flag bearer.
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 athlete to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, was selected as the flag bearer along with judoka Kiyomi Watanabe.
He is a prime medal bet for a podium finish in the biggest global sports showpiece and 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 Tokyo 2020. – Rappler.com