Eumir Marcial will take EJ Obiena’s place as the Philippines’ flag bearer during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics opening ceremony on Friday, July 23.
Due to scheduling conflicts and new protocols set by the organizing committee, Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino had to appoint another athlete to fill in for the pole vaulter.
“He [Marcial] has the most flexible schedule before and after the opening ceremony,” Tolentino said “We have already informed Eumir about his task and we are very thankful to EJ for understanding. He cannot rebook his flight anymore.”
The 25-year-old boxer left his training camp in Colorado Springs on Thursday, July 15 via multiple flights and is expected to land in Tokyo, Japan on Saturday, July 17.
Marcial will be able to fulfill the required protocol for flag bearers to be in the Olympic village at least 48 hours before the opening ceremony.
The Filipino pug will also be kicking off his maiden Olympic campaign on Monday, July 26 in the men’s middleweight event’s round of 32, giving him enough time to rest after the Friday event.
Obiena was forced to withdraw as his arrival is scheduled on Friday, July 23 12:30 pm, Japan time, and his travel itinerary can longer be adjusted.
“Because of protocols, EJ should be expecting delays at the airport and that would make it impossible for him to catch the opening ceremony,” Tolentino said.
Marcial will carry the flag alongside Japan-based judoka Kiyomi Watanabe, who will compete in the women’s -63kg event on Tuesday, July 27.
Six Filipino officials are joining the parade of countries – chef de mission Mariano “Nonong” Araneta, Philippine Judo Federation president Dave Carter, boxing coach Nolito Velasco, skateboarding coach Daniel Velasco, Philippine Swimming Inc. president Lani Velasco, and Gymnastics Association of the Philippines head Cynthia Carrion-Norton.
Though Marcial turned professional, he is aiming to make the most out of his stint in the Tokyo Olympics that will be staged from July 23 to August 8.
His last amateur bout was in the 2021 Asian Elite Boxing Championships where he fell short of a podium finish in the semifinals. – Rappler.com