Filipino Olympians heading to Tokyo will enjoy the usual perks traditionally received by athletes during Summer Games. This time, however, their movements will be guarded due to the coronavirus.
Food and plenty of space for exercise will be available to all athletes inside the 44-hectare Athletes' Village located in Tokyo’s Harumi Waterfront District, assured Team Philippines chef de mission Mariano “Nonong” Araneta.
“Everything you need, especially food, are available at the Athletes’ Village,” Araneta said on Saturday. “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 are also laundry machines available to everyone inside the village,” he added.
But, he said, protocols will be strict once the Olympians arrive in Tokyo.
“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,” Araneta said.
“Everyone has to follow protocols like wearing a mask, social distancing, and there’s an everyday testing, a saliva test, while inside the premises [bubble].”
Araneta arrived in Japan last Tuesday via Narita airport with a four-member Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) secretariat team—team doctor Randy Molo, POC general manager and Secondary Olympic Attache Dinah Remolacio, Games Management Officer and Secondary CLO Martin Gregorio, and Protocol Officer and Secondary Activity Monitoring Officer Jarryd Bello.
“Every movement is guarded and limited, you are not allowed to roam the city. They cannot present or promote Japan, their own country, to the world. That is far different from the past Olympics,” said Araneta.
“Sightseeing is not allowed. The washing of hands is being imposed, that's how strict they are.”
“As I said, jogging or cycling is allowed inside the village, but masks and social distancing are imposed,” he said.
All 19 Filipino athletes, their coaches and team leaders will be housed in the Athletes' Village, according Araneta.
“They will be staying in seven units at the village—four rooms, two bathrooms and one office that will serve as the medical room,” he said.
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.
The Filipino athletes and their coaches and team leaders are arriving in Tokyo in different batches based on their competition schedules.
Rower Cris Nievarez and his coach Edgar Macabitas Maerina and rowing association treasurer Magnum Membrere, as well as boxers Eumir Felix Marcial, Carlo Paalam, Irish Magno and Nesthy Petecio and their coach Ronald Chavez arrived in Tokyo on Saturday.
Nievarez and company flew in from Manila, Marcial and Chavez arrived from Los Angeles, California, and 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.
Expected to arrive Sunday are weightlifters Hidilyn Diaz and Erleen Ann Ando, taekwondo jin Kurt Barbosa, swimmers Remedy Rule and Luke Gebbie, and shooter Jayson Valdez. Judoka Kiyomi Watanabe 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 arriving on opening day on July 23 while golfer Yuka Saso and Bianca Pagdanganan are expected on July 29.
A national sports association official on Team Philippines, meanwhile, will miss the Olympics after testing positive for the virus.
All participants at the Tokyo Olympics—athletes, coaches, officials, media, dignitaries, among others—are obliged to undergo two (96 and 72 hours before arrival) RT-PCR tests before leaving their respective countries.
Everyone will be subjected to Antigen tests upon arrival at the Japanese airports (Hadena and Narita).