Pole vaulter EJ Obiena and judoka Kiyomi Watanabe were chosen as the Philippines' opening ceremony flag bearers in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Obiena and Watanabe will represent the 19-athlete delegation by carrying the flag in the event opener on July 23.
According to Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Abraham "Bambol" Tolentino, while all 19 Olympians are qualified, the flag bearers were chosen based on their availability prior to their events.
"All 19 athletes are qualified and deserve to be flag bearers, but we based our selection on the flight availability, who are based there, and the schedule of their games and practices," said Tolentino in an online press conference on Thursday, July 8.
Six other officials – chef de mission Mariano "Nonong" Araneta, Lani Velasco of Philippine Swimming Inc, Philippine Judo Federation president David Carter, Gymnastics Association of the Philippines president Cynthia Carrion, skateboarding coach Daniel Bautista, and boxing's Nolito Velasco – will join the two athletes on the floor.
Obiena was the first Tokyo 2020 Olympics qualifier from the Philippines and is a prime medal bet for a podium finish in the biggest global sports showpiece.
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.
Watanabe, on the other hand, is based in Japan and nabbed an Olympic berth via the continental allocation.
The Filipino-Japanese judoka is a four-time Southeast Asian Games gold medalist. – Rappler.com
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.