Stricter health protocols in Japan levels Olympic playing field, says official
The national training director of the Philippine Sports Institute said on Saturday that Japan’s announcement of stricter health measures, including a spectator ban in the Tokyo Olympics, “levels the playing field” for Filipino athletes.
“Everyone will be arriving just a few weeks before [the Olympics],” Marc Velasco, who is also the chief of staff of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), said in a radio interview.
“This levels the playing field for us because … in previous Olympics, rich countries arrive months before the competition.”
Velasco joined a chorus of officials who said that this year’s assembled Olympic delegation is the “strongest ever” and that the PSC has covered all bases to make sure that the athletes have to worry only about competing at their very best.
“It’s all systems go; they have RT-PCR tests on schedule, the hotels they are staying [in are set], predeparture and postarrival,” said Velasco.
Taekwondo’s Kurt Bryan Barbosa, rowing’s Cris Nievarez and weightlifting’s Elreen Ando are the only Olympians flying to Tokyo from Manila. The other 16 will be coming from either their training bases abroad or are already in Japan. Barbosa, Nievarez and Ando are already roomed in “sterile environments” like Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba and University of Cebu.
For quarantine purposes, all Filipino athletes, according to Velasco, will be billeted in “a good hotel in Pasay near Manila Bay,” when they come back home from Tokyo.
“This is the best bunch of athletes so far and I think Hall of Famers like Elma Muros-Posadas and Onyok Velasco would be very proud of them like the rest of us are,” Velasco said.
Japan has recently declared a state of emergency, which caused a few mild concerns within the sports hierarchy but Velasco said everything is under control.
“It’s a fluid situation like Japan now is in state of emergency so there are limited options, but we will go around and make sure our athletes are taken care of,” he added.
Japan has also banned spectators from the sport, making the Games the first to be played in empty venues. But Velasco said that although the empty bleachers may affect the athletes, Filipinos “are known to adapt to any situation.”
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