PH sports officials still optimistic of Tokyo Games as virus cases spike

Published January 4, 2021, 3:09 PM

by Kristel Satumbaga-Villar

The country’s highest sports officials are confident the 2021 Tokyo Olympics will still push through despite recent reports that Japan is poised to declare a state of emergency as COVID-19 cases soar in the East Asian nation’s capital and three surrounding prefectures.

Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Bambol Tolentino is optimistic the situation would ease in time for the Games penciled July 23 to Aug. 8.

“Hindi naman siguro,” Tolentino said when asked for his opinion if the recent development would affect the Olympics.

The Tagaytay City representative and PhilCycling chief also believed that the planned state of emergency “will be for a short period just to contain” the surge.

Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman Butch Ramirez shared the same sentiment, although he believes that health and safety of the people always come first.

“Let’s observe the natural law. I’m taking things openly. Every people and country, (the) ultimate concern is the safety of people,” Ramirez said.

Reports on Monday said Japan might enter a state of emergency this week as the country grapples with the increasing cases of the virus possibly linked to a potential, more infectious variant.

This is not new to Japan. A few months ago, the government declared its first state of emergency that lasted for more than a month.

World champion gymnast Carlos Yulo, one of the country’s Olympic qualifiers, has been training in Japan for years, but Gymnastics Association of the Philippines president Cynthia Carrion said the development would not affect Yulo’s preparations.

“Okay si Caloy (Yulo). Not affected,” Carrion said.

The Olympics was initially scheduled in 2020, but the pandemic situation pushed the organizers to reset it this year.