The time they need
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has informed its member countries, including the Philippines, of a specific schedule that pegged the deadline for all qualifying tournaments worldwide for next year’s Tokyo Olympics.
Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham “Bambol’’ Tolentino welcomed the development that would allow more Filipino athletes to participate in the hunt for an Olympic spot until the qualification period ends June 29, 2021.
“It will give our athletes more time to train and prepare while waiting for these qualifying tournaments,’’ Tolentino said.
Tokyo organizers have programmed 33 sports, all of which have yet to complete their qualifiers due to the postponement of the Summer Games brought about by the global coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
The disease has forced the hands of the IOC and Tokyo organizers to move the Olympics a year later from its original July 24-Aug. 9, 2020 schedule to July 23-Aug. 8, 2021.
Moving the Games to a new schedule came after several countries put pressure on the Tokyo organizing committee and the IOC, with Australia and Canada already declaring that they wouldn’t send their athletes if the original schedule was followed.
“I feel that in the coming Olympics, our athletes can win at least one gold medal and end the country’s quest for gold,’’ said Tolentino, a representative from Cavite City.
“More athletes who are aspiring to be in Tokyo will be given the chance to qualify,’’ added the president of PhilCycling, the country’s governing body in the sport.
The June 29, 2021 qualification period deadline is exactly a week before the deadline for final entries on July 5 or 18 days prior to the opening ceremonies.
Pole vaulter EJ Obiena, gymnast Carlos Yulo and boxers Irish Magno and Eumir Felix Marcial have made the grade for Tokyo.
Another group led by Olympic silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz, skateboarder Margielyn Didal, judoka Kiyomi Watanabe and golfers Miguel Tabuena, Yuka Saso and Dottie Ardina are hoping to join them.
Diaz is considered a shoo-in as she needs to just satisfy a required number of tournaments to see action in to gain entry to Tokyo.
The silver medalist in the Rio Games in 2016 is in Malaysia, even as Tabuena will shoot to play against the world’s best par-busters for the second straight time after also seeing action in Brazil.
Watanabe, meanwhile, will be shooting to be one of 26 bets from each weight class in judo. She is a four-t
ime Southeast Asian Games gold medalist and is very near qualifying after participating
in tournaments all over the world.
A total 62 Filipino athletes from 18 sports will still go through the process of qualifying to the Tokyo Summer Games and the number can still increase with the extended qualifying schedule.
The country has alloted a total of P100 million for the foreign exposure of its bright Olympic hopes leading to the Games, an unprecedented amount as it continues to chase its first gold medal. INQ
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