Still in for 2021
It was probably a no-brainer anyway. But it’s still a source of relief now that it is official—there will be no new qualifying tournaments for the Filipinos who have already booked tickets to the Tokyo Olympics.
And that goes for all those who have already qualified for the postponed Summer Games: You’re in for 2021.
Olympic officials have confirmed that the 6,200 or so athletes who had already punched their ticket for Tokyo will keep their spots for the rescheduled games next year.
“That’s what we expected because it would have been really disappointing if they had to qualify again,” said Ed Picson, secretary general of the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines, a national sports association that has already qualified two athletes to the Olympics.
But it’s still a refreshing piece of update for the likes of pole vaulter EJ Obiena, world champion gymnast Carlos Yulo and boxers Eumir Felix Marcial and Irish Magno, who have all qualified for Tokyo.
Despite the Olympics being moved to 2021, the Filipino qualifiers are doing what they can to stay in shape and sharpen up for the hunt for the country’s first Olympic gold medal.
“Eumir and Irish are training individually because of the quarantine,” Picson said of the two Olympian boxers. “I’ve asked them to send videos of their training so we can monitor their progress.”
“If [the Olympics] was going to be this year, I would have been ready. [Now that] it’s next year, I will be ready for it,” Obiena had earlier told the Inquirer. Obiena, who is holed up in Italy, a country ravaged by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic that has shut down sports events all over the world including the Olympics, added that “any time the [Olympics] will happen, I will be prepared for it.”
Gymnastics president Cynthia Carreon had also earlier told the Inquirer that Yulo was continuing his training in Japan under strict monitoring.
Other qualifying events
The decision to not change the status of those who have already qualified, agreed to by all the international sports organizations, resolves one of the key questions for marathoners, open-water swimmers and hundreds of other athletes whose qualifying process came early in the 2020 sports calendar, before the COVID-19 started shutting down sports across the globe.
World Athletics president Seb Coe confirmed that all sports have agreed to the International Olympic Committee’s proposal that all athletes currently qualified for the Olympics will remain qualified for next year.
Still to be determined is how the 33 sports that make up the Olympics will allocate the rest of the spots at the rescheduled games. Typically, the individual sports determine their qualifying procedures for Olympic events.
And that is probably more important right now.
“The important question is what about the other qualifying tournaments?” Picson said.
Boxing, for instance, has three Olympic qualifiers that were either cut short or completely canceled due to COVID-19, including one where the likes of world champion Nesthy Petecio was supposed to compete in before the pandemic worsened.
Coe said the important next step is to develop a fair process for the rest of the athletes, most of whom have seen their qualifying events postponed.
That decision could affect Filipino athletes either already in the circle of qualifiers but still not officially in the Olympics and those in the fringes of qualification. Among them are Asian champions Hidilyn Diaz (weightlifting) and Margielyn Didal (skateboarding) who are virtually qualified pending the wrapup of all other Olympic qualifiers in their sport. Also awaiting official tickets is judoka Kiyomi Watanabe. Several golfers, meanwhile, are on the fringes of the qualifying cut. —with a report from AP
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