The Philippines’ Tokyo 2020 Olympic dream will soon be realized as the first batch of delegates landed in the host city on Saturday, July 17.
Rower Cris Nievarez, who will open the country’s campaign on Friday, July 23, in the men’s single sculls, flew in from Manila together with his coach Edgar Macabitas Maerina and rowing association treasurer Magnum Membrere.
Joining Nievarez in experiencing Japan’s hospitality in the COVID-hit quadrennial meet are boxers Eumir Felix Marcial, Carlo Paalam, Irish Magno, and Nesthy Petecio, and their coach Ronald Chavez.
Marcial and Chavez arrived from Los Angeles, California, while the rest of the boxing team – including coaches Nolito Velasco, Elmer Pamisa, Reynaldo Galido, and Australian consultant Donald Walter Abnett – came from their Thailand training camp.
Only one member of the Philippine delegation, a national sports association official, was not able to fly out of Manila after testing positive for COVID-19.
According to Team Philippines Tokyo 2020 chef de mission Mariano “Nonong” Araneta, the delegation faced stringent protocols from the get-go, but gave assurances they are well-provided for in the athletes’ village.
“Everything you need, especially food, are available at the athletes’ village,” said Araneta. “There are 48,000 kinds of meals to choose from – Halal, Japanese, American, or Western food, name it, they’re all there.”
“You can run, jog or bike inside the village. There’re also laundry machines available to everyone inside the village,” he added.
But unlike previous Olympic Games, there is limited assistance upon arrival as social distancing is strictly enforced.
“No one will carry your luggage or your bags and nobody will push your cart but only among yourselves once you arrive at the airport,” said Araneta, who arrived on Tuesday, July 13.
“Everyone has to follow the protocols like wearing a mask, social distancing, and there’s an everyday testing, a saliva test, while inside the premises [bubble].”
“The washing of hands is being imposed, that’s how strict they are.”
The athletes will not be allowed to go sightseeing as well, as movement is being monitored by the organizers.
“Sight-seeing is not allowed,” added the chef de mission.
“Every movement is guarded and limited, you are not allowed to roam the city. They (athletes) cannot present or promote Japan, their own country, to the world. That is far different from the past Olympics.”
All 19 Filipino athletes, their coaches and team leaders will be housed in the athletes’ village located in the Harumi Waterfront district.
“They will be staying in seven units at the village – four rooms, two bathrooms, and one office that will serve as the medical room,” said Araneta, who has seen the 44-hectare athletes’ village.
But overall, Mariano said, the Japanese are living up to expectations as ideal hosts.
“The Japanese people are very helpful despite these strict health protocols,” Araneta said.
Weightlifters Hidilyn Diaz and Erleen Ann Ando, taekwondo jin Kurt Barbosa, swimmers Remedy Rule and Luke Gebbie, and shooter Jayson Valdez are expected to arrive on Sunday, July 18.
Judoka Kiyomi Watanabe – who will carry the Philippine flag with Marcial in the opening ceremonies – and gymnast Carlos Yulo, both based in Japan, are entering the village also on Sunday.
Pole vaulter EJ Obiena and golfer Juvic Pagunsan will be flying in on the Games’ opening day on Friday, July 23, while golfer Yuka Saso and Bianca Pagdanganan will arrive on Thursday, July 29.
All participants at the Tokyo Olympics – athletes, coaches, officials, media, dignitaries, among others – are obliged, before leaving their respective countries, to undergo two RT-PCR tests (96 and 72 hours before arrival).
Everyone will be subjected to Antigen tests upon arrival at Tokyo airports Haneda and Narita. – Rappler.com