In light of the coronavirus pandemic, Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino has joined a growing chorus of sports federations in calling for the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics.
“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,” the country’s top sports official said in a statement on Tuesday.
Tolentino stressed that it is better to postpone the global meet to 2021 rather than a cancellation, echoing the statements of other countries such as Canada, Australia, Germany, Brazil, Slovenia and Portugal.
And should the International Olympic Committee (IOC) push through with the delay, he said that it would benefit the Nationals, who are looking to capture the country’s first-ever gold.
“It’s better to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Olympics rather than cancelation so as not to lose (Philippines) our chance for our first gold medal.”
Only four Filipinos have already clinched a ticket to the quadrennial event prior to the halt of sporting events around the world. These are gymnast Carlos Yulo, pole vaulter EJ Obiena, and boxers Eumir Marcial and Irish Magno.
Meanwhile, several other athletes are still on track to qualifying to the Olympiad, including Rio Olympics silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz. The men’s 3×3 team was also supposed to compete in the OQT while several other athletes could no rake in valuable points for qualification.
For now, Tolentino urged the sporting community in the Philippines to ensure safety in these times of crisis.
“The POC advises all athletes, coaches, officials and stakeholders to stay safe, stay at home and observe government and Health Department protocols so we could defeat this virus,” he said.
In relation Tolentino’s call, a veteran IOC member in Dick Pound disclosed that the Committee is likely to push the event to 2021.
“On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided,” Pound said Tuesday in a phone interview with USA Today.
“The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know.”