Olympics: Pinoy athletes continue to vie for slots despite possible postponement of Tokyo Games

Dennis Gasgonia, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 10 2020 12:52 PM | Updated as of Mar 10 2020 01:51 PM

Olympics: Pinoy athletes continue to vie for slots despite possible postponement of Tokyo Games 1
A man wearing a face mask, following an outbreak of the coronavirus, walks in front of giant Olympic rings at the waterfront area at Odaiba Marine Park in Tokyo, Japan. Stoyan Nenov, Reuters

MANILA -- (UPDATE) The country's preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics continue despite the possibility of the Summer Games being postponed amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Nonong Araneta, the country’s chef de mission for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, said there is still no official word from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) if it will be shelving the Games scheduled to take place from July 24 to August 9.

“Umaasa lang kami sa statement ng IOC. So far, wala pang official cancellation, walang official postponement. So we’re preparing as it goes. If it’s a go, then we’re prepared for it,” said Araneta.

So far, there are three Filipinos who have qualified for the Tokyo Games. Eumir Marcial clinched a trip to Tokyo by making it into the semifinal round of the Asia-Oceana Olympic boxing qualifiers, joining pole vaulter EJ Obiena and gymnast Carlos Yulo.

Other athletes like Olympic silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz of weightlifting, Kiyomi Watanabe of judo and Danny Caluag of cycling are still working to gain their qualification by joining international tournaments.

However, some of the qualifying competitions, like the Asian Weightlifting Championships in Uzbekistan, have been either postponed or shelved all together due to coronavirus threat.

“Nagco-coordinate kami with NSAs (national sports associations) kasi sila ang nakakaalam ng qualifiers like ‘yung boxing. Hindi naman naka-cancel, but they only change venues,” explained Araneta.

Araneta said there at least 19 sports being competed for by Filipino athletes who are vying for Olympic slots. These include boxing, canoe-kayak, golf, judo, wrestling, archery, cycling, weightlifting, table tennis, athletics, and wrestling.

“Ang naka-cancel lang ay sa Korea and China. But the rest are proceeding with their qualifiers. Kung nagche-change ng venue, just advise us and we’ll prepare the budget,” Araneta said.

For his part, Philippine Olympic Committee secretary general Edwin Gastanes said the NSAs themselves are on the lookout for Olympic qualifiers that will serve as alternate tournaments for Filipino athletes.
“They try to see kung saan mapupunta or mata-transfer ‘yung mga cancelled tournaments so they could go there,” he said. “But unfortunately may mga kahit sigurado na ang event tapos biglang maka-cancel like the 3x3 basketball. So the NSAs have to wait kung saan pupunta 'yung postponed qualifier,” he said.

Araneta said other countries are facing the similar predicament.

“Actually hindi lang natin problema ‘yan. It’s the problem of all countries wanting to compete in the Games,” he said.

(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website).