POC explains why other Pinoy athletes won't join Parade of Nations

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 15 2021 02:45 PM | Updated as of Jul 15 2021 03:37 PM

POC explains why other Pinoy athletes won't join Parade of Nations 1

MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) There will be more sports officials than athletes when the Philippine delegation marches during the Parade of Nations in the opening ceremonies of the Tokyo Olympic Games.

The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) has said that only the country's two flag-bearers will march during the ceremony that takes place on July 23 at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo.

The Philippine flag will be carried by judoka Kiyomi Watanabe and boxer Eumir Marcial, who replaced pole vaulter EJ Obiena as the male flag-bearer.

"Kahit pa allowed, kahit pa allowed ang athletes magparada... We decided not to take the risk, as health protocols. Sila na lang. Mahirap na eh," POC President Rep. Abraham "Bambol" Tolentino explained.

While other Filipino athletes are expected to begin arriving by July 18, Tolentino said they will not march during the Parade of Nations.

Rather, the flag-bearers will be accompanied by six sports officials: 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 President Cynthia Carrion. 

According to Tolentino, athletes who are already in the Olympic Village at the time of the Opening Ceremonies can join the parade. However, the POC does not want to take any risks with the members of Team Philippines.

"For us, I think let's be responsible, not take that risk. Kahit pa andoon na sila eh may laro naman kinabukasan or may laro the day after," he explained.

"Hindi lang 'yun sa may laro. Eh kung that will be a big exposure, di ba? Sayang naman. 'Wag na lang siguro pumarada. Okay na tayo ng anim lang at saka dalawang flag bearer na official," he added.

"So sa mga kababayan natin na sasabihin, 'Bakit 'yun, ang daming pumarada, bakit 'yun pumarada lahat?' Well, we decided not to take the risk."

Filipino athletes will plunge into action on July 23, starting with rower Cris Nievarez who will compete in the heats of the men's single sculls. 

The next day, gymnast Carlos Yulo -- one of the country's brightest medal hopes -- begins his qualification process in men's artistic gymnastics.

Carrion has already said that Yulo will not carry the Philippine flag during the Opening Ceremonies because of his competition the next day.