Absence of vaccine could be final foe for first Olympic gold medal
Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino can clearly see the window of opportunity in the Tokyo Summer Games for the Philippines to claim its first-ever Olympic gold medal.
That’s why he’s praying for a vaccine to be discovered soon.
“This might be our Olympic year when the probability of winning our first possible gold medal is high,” Tolentino said. “I think the chances are good for our athletes to get that first gold. I’m really praying that a vaccine or a cure will be discovered late this year or early next year [so that the Games can go on].”
The Tokyo Olympics was rescheduled from July 23-Aug. 8 next year after the global coronavirus health crisis forced the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Japan organizers to abandon plans of holding the Games this year.
Tolentino is pinning his hopes on world-class athletes such as Carlos Edriel Yulo of gymnastics, Hidilyn Diaz of weightlifting, boxers Eumir Marcial and Nesthy Petecio and skateboarder Margielyn Didal to bring home the Olympic gold.But with a vaccine yet to be discovered, the Cavite representative fears that the rare window could close.
Both the IOC and Japan organizers agreed that another postponement next year would mean canceling the Games, which would feature over 11,000 athletes from 206 countries, for good.
“That vaccine could be the only solution for the Olympics to proceed without any fear of contracting the virus,” said Tolentino, also the president of PhilCycling, the nation’s governing body in the sport.
The Philippines has never brought home a gold medal from the Olympics since participating for the first time in the 1924 Paris Games.
Diaz came close to bagging the precious nugget in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games before settling for a silver medal, the country’s first since boxer Mansueto “Onyok” Velasco was—as to what many believe to this day—robbed of the gold in the 1996 edition in Atlanta.
Pole vaulter EJ Obiena and boxer Irish Magno have likewise made it to the rescheduled Japan Games along with Marcial and Yulo.
A total of 62 Filipino athletes from 18 sports are hoping to join them when Olympic qualifying tournaments resume. INQ