Chef-de-mission hopes Olympic hopefuls will get go-signal to train soon

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 27 2020 09:02 PM

Nonong Araneta, the Philippines' chef-de-mission to the Tokyo Olympics.

MANILA - The country's chef-de-mission to the Tokyo Olympics is hopeful that national athletes -- particularly those who may still qualify for next year's Games -- will soon get the green light to resume training.

National athletes have yet to receive the go-signal from the government to resume in-person training, and most of them are making do with virtual training sessions with just 10 months left before the Games.

Some athletes, such as pole-vaulter EJ Obiena, weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, and gymnast Caloy Yulo, are training abroad and even joining competitions. But others, including Olympic-bound boxers Eumir Marcial and Irish Magno, are still limited in terms of what they can do for training.

"'Yung mga athletes naman natin abroad, walang problema kasi tuloy ang training nila doon. Marami ring athletes abroad," chef-de-mission Mariano "Nonong" Araneta said during an appearance on Radyo Pilipinas last Friday.

"So, ang pinag-uukulan namin ng pansin ngayon is dito sa Philippines, kailangan mag-resume na ng training. Kailangan mapayagan na tayo ng IATF na mag-resume ng training," he stressed. "May mga protocols naman, safety protocols na susundin."

Araneta, who is also the head of the Philippine Football Federation (PFF), pointed out that professional leagues have been allowed to train since late August.

The PBA, in fact, is set to restart its season on October 11 after putting all of its activities on hold last March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Why not doon sa mga Olympic hopefuls natin na may mga pag-asa tayong makasali sa Olympics?" said Araneta.

Araneta says he remains in constant contact with the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) and the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) as far as the athletes are concerned. The POC, he says, has already written the Inter-Agency Task Force to ask permission for the Olympic hopefuls to resume training.

Each national sports association (NSA) has already put together its own protocols to ensure the safety and security of the athletes, and venues are being secured for the NSAs as well.

Araneta believes it is crucial for the athletes to ramp up their training by next month, especially as their rivals from other countries have been practicing for a while now.

"Sabi nga ni (ABAP secretary-general) Ed Picson sa akin, 'yung iba nagpapa-tournament na," Araneta noted.

"Of course, 'yung athletes naman, they know how to take care of themselves, at saka 'yung pagpa-conditioning. Pero iba pa rin 'yun sa match fitness," he said. "Kailangan pa rin 'yung match situation or match fitness ang kailangan."

"Preparation is very important. Hopefully by next month maka-start na ng train."

The Tokyo Olympics was originally scheduled to take place from July 24 to August 9 this year, but the global coronavirus pandemic forced the organizers and the International Olympic Committee to make the unprecedented decision of postponing the Games.

It will instead take place on July 23 to August 8 next year. So far, four Filipinos are assured of spots in the Olympics -- Obiena, Yulo, Magno, and Marcial.