The New National Stadium, a venue designed for the opening and closing ceremonies for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, is seen prominently in the Tokyo cityscape.
Sports leaders welcome Olympics postponement
Dante Navarro (The Philippine Star) - March 26, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Local sports officials welcomed the postponement of the Tokyo Olympics until next year, saying safety and health of everyone is of utmost concern while expressing relief that the International Olympic Committee’s verdict did not result to the cancellation of the quadrennial games.

“I have always expressed that I favor its postponement, given the way this (COVID-19) crisis had seemed to be taking,” said Philippine Sports Commission chair Butch Ramirez. “As I’ve mentioned before, safety and health of everyone is a top priority.”

The IOC, through the recommendation of host Tokyo and giving in to the mounting pressure from all quarters, announced late Tuesday that it has agreed “100 percent” to a proposal of delaying the Tokyo Games for about a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The 2020 Summer Olympics was originally scheduled July 24 to Aug. 9.

Philippine Olympic Committee president Bambol Tolentino also hailed the decision, saying the reprieve and not the cancellation augured well for the four athletes who have qualified for the games.

“The postponement is both good for the safety of all and for us too, because it’s not cancellation as we already have qualifiers, who could deliver the elusive first Olympic gold for the country,” said Tolentino.

Team Philippines chef de mission Nonong Araneta also welcomed the suspension, saying it will allow both the qualified athletes and the aspirants to take care of their health first before resuming buildup when the coronavirus pandemic is over.

“Mahirap din kasi sa mga athletes yung mag-training dahil sa lockdown,” said Araneta. “Iyung mga nag-qualify na, mahirap din sila mag-focus, especially (pole vaulter) EJ Obiena and (gymnast) Caloy Yulo; nasa ibang bansa sila (Italy and Japan, respectively) while their families are here. Mahirap, iniisip din nila kung safe yung families nila dito.”

Yulo, Obiena and boxers Eumir Marcial and Irish Magno have gained tickets to the Games by hurdling their respective qualifiers with Marcial bagging the middleweight gold in his side of the elims in Jordan recently.

Local boxing official Ed Picson also praised the decision to postpone the Games, saying: “This is for the best. With only four months away and uncertainty still in the air worldwide, I also feel there was no other recourse. We can always make adjustments in our boxers’ training and preparation.”

He also quoted ABAP (Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines) president Ricky Vargas as saying: “It was an inevitable and a wise decision.” – With reports from Joey Villar, Olmin Leyba, John Bryan Ulanday

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