POC chief agrees with postponement of Tokyo Olympics
The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) is agreeable to what almost everybody in the sporting world sees coming: The Tokyo Olympics will be moved to next year.
“A 2021 schedule is ideal enough. I favor a postponement because the health and safety of everyone in sports—both in the Philippines and all over the world—is paramount in this COVID-19 pandemic,’’ said POC president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) members, national Olympic committees and athletes were all racing toward the same conclusion on Monday: The Tokyo Olympics are not going to take place this summer.
Tolentino sees a silver lining with the possible postponement of the Tokyo Olympics: “More Filipinos will have chances to qualify. A postponement would mean more time to train for those who have already qualified and for those who are still trying to qualify.’’
For athletes who have been looking forward to seeing action after having already qualified for the event that was originally slated to kick off on July 24, the development was a source of gloom.
“I have been training hard and preparing for the Olympics way before the qualifying tournament and it will be sad once a postponement happens,’’ Magno told the Inquirer in Filipino.Magno punched a ticket to Tokyo during the Oceania Olympic Boxing Qualification Tournament early this month in Amman, Jordan.
Boxing at the Summer Olympics is scheduled on July 25 to Aug. 9 with Magno and middleweight slugger Eumir Felix Marcial both qualifying for the Philippines. The two were hoping to end the country’s gold medal drought in the quadrennial meet, along with pole vaulter EJ Obiena and gymnast Carlos Yulo.
“The postponement of the Olympics, or if ever a cancellation happens, would be hard for those who qualified already,’’ said Magno, who is already in the second week of a 14-day quarantine since arriving from Jordan.
But Magno is also aware of the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think the health of every athlete should be given priority. I will truly understand if the organizers decide to move the schedule of the Olympics,’’ she said.
Though there is no official word yet from the IOC and Japanese organizers, talks are rife that the Games could be delayed for a year as a consequence of the pandemic.
In fact, IOC member Dick Pound already divulged that discussions were made on a possible one-year postponement after Australia and Canada said they would not send their athletes to Japan if the Olympics push through in July.
“It’s better to postpone the Games rather than cancel it, so as not to lose our chance for our first gold medal, or the chance to win even more golds,’’ Tolentino said.
“The POC advises all athletes, coaches, officials and stakeholders to stay safe, stay at home and observe government and health department protocols, so we can defeat this virus,’’ Tolentino said.
Aside from the four Filipino athletes already qualified, there are several others virtually assured of representing the country in the next Olympics: weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, skateboarder Margielyn Didal and judoka Kiyomi Watanabe.
Craig Reedie, a longtime member of the IOC, told The Associated Press (AP) that everyone can see where things are headed, with the new coronavirus pandemic spreading and Olympic hopefuls around the world unable to train.
“In the balance of probabilities, the information known about conditions in Japan and the COVID-19’s effect on the rest of world clearly indicates the likelihood of postponement,” Reedie said. “The length of postponement is the major challenge for the IOC.”
The IOC said no decision had been made, and Reedie was quick to acknowledge that he was speaking only for himself and not because of any insight provided to him by IOC president Thomas Bach, who will guide the final decision. Pound did not return a message left by AP. Earlier in the day, after Pound’s pronouncement, an IOC spokesperson said, “It is the right of every IOC member to interpret the decision of the IOC [executive board] from Sunday.”
Indeed, the interpretations and opinions are just that and haven’t always been spot-on. Last month, Pound told AP that cancellation, not postponement, was the only real option if the Tokyo Games couldn’t start on time.
But a lot has changed since then, and the rapid momentum of the “postpone” movement among athletes and nations seemed to diminish the likelihood that it will take all of four weeks for the IOC to reach a conclusion. —With a report from AP INQ