Pole-vaulter EJ Obiena to be replaced as flag-bearer
AN expanded set of financial incentives awaits Filipino athletes who will win medals in the Tokyo Olympics.
This was announced by Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Abraham N. Tolentino in his session on the online Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum on Tuesday.
The POC head said that aside from the P10 million (gold), P5 million (silver) and P2 million (bronze) that the MVP Sports Foundation of Manny V. Pangilinan (MVP) and the government will each hand out to medal winners, businessman Ramon S. Ang has also pledged to give the same amount in addition.
“I officially announce, and we thank, Mr. Ramon Ang of San Miguel who committed the same amount as the MVP group for incentives for our Olympic athletes,” said Mr. Tolentino.
The development brings to date the total financial incentives to P30 million for the gold medal winner, P15 million for silver and P6 million for bronze.
Mr. Tolentino expressed hope that the expanded incentives inspire the Philippine athletes to perform well in the rescheduled Olympics, happening from July 23 to Aug. 8, including winning the country’s first-ever gold medal.
The Philippines will be represented in the Tokyo Games by 19 athletes set to play in 11 sports.
Meanwhile, Mr. Tolentino also shared that because of an availability issue, pole-vaulter EJ Obiena will be replaced as the male flag-bearer for the Philippines in the Olympic Opening Ceremonies.
He said because of the new guidelines of organizers, which include requiring flag-bearers to be in Tokyo 48 hours before the opening, Mr. Obiena is a no-go.
Mr. Obiena will be coming from his camp in Italy and will arrive on July 23 itself, hours before the ceremonies.
While they can try to ask for an exemption, Mr. Tolentino said, considering the expected queue in processing in the airport, Mr. Obiena may not still make it on time for the opening event.
The POC is expected to announce a replacement, who will be joining judoka Kiyomi Watanabe as flag-bearer, on Wednesday or Thursday.
In the opening, only the flag-bearers can join six sports officials from their respective countries in the Parade of Nations as part of strict health and safety protocols against the coronavirus.
In a related development, the first batch of Team Philippines officials will leave for Tokyo on Wednesday to set up office in preparation for the arrival of the athletes and other officials.
Among those leaving is Philippine Chef de Mission Mariano V. Araneta. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo