EJ Obiena
AFP
Philippine Olympic bets upbeat
Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) - March 29, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Filipino pole-vaulter EJ Obiena will spend time from hereon until the Tokyo Olympics is held in 2021 to get “faster, higher and stronger.”

The 24-year-old, holed up in his training base in Formia, Italy while COVID-19 is wreaking havoc worldwide, is trying hard to take things positively.

“I’m a bit lost to it but it’s (situation) definitely bigger than sports and I understand the decision,” he told The STAR.

“I’m trying to see to it that the (additional) time given would be used wisely,” he said in the wake of the Olympics’ postponement.

While there’s sadness and fear around him, Obiena welcomed news that those who have qualified for the Olympics, originally scheduled July 24 to Aug. 9, will not have to go through a new set of qualifiers.

It’s the same case for the three other Philippine athletes who have booked tickets to the Tokyo Olympics – gymnast Carlos Yulo and boxers Eumir Felix Marcial and Irish Magno, who can only hope for the best.

“Sana po matapos na lahat ng ito para makapag-focus at makabalik na kami sa training,” Magno said.

Olympic officials have confirmed that the 6,200 or so athletes who had already punched their ticket for Tokyo will keep their spots for the rescheduled games next year.

The decision, agreed to by all the international sports organizations, resolves one of the key questions for marathoners, open-water swimmers and hundreds of other athletes whose qualifying process came early in the 2020 sports calendar, before the coronavirus started shutting down sports across the globe.

Still to be determined is how the 33 sports that make up the Olympics will allocate the rest of the spots at the rescheduled games. Typically, the individual sports determine their qualifying procedures for Olympic events.

World Athletics president Seb Coe confirmed that all sports have agreed to the IOC’s proposal that all athletes currently qualified for the Olympics will remain qualified for next year.

In track, he said that accounts for about half the places. He said the important next step is to develop a fair process for the rest of the athletes, most of whom have seen their qualifying events postponed.

Team Philippines chef de mission Nonong Araneta urged the Olympians and the aspirants to focus on their health and safety amid the pandemic.

“Stay healthy and safe, follow what the government is saying regarding the quarantine,” he said.

EJ OBIENA
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