The Tokyo Olympics

Published February 4, 2021, 12:34 AM

by Senator Francis Tolentino


Senator Francis N. Tolentino

The Japanese government recently announced that the Tokyo Olympics will take place as scheduled from 23 July to 8 August this year, despite doubts from various quarters about pushing through with the event in the midst of a global pandemic. The Games were already postponed for 12 months in April last year as COVID-19 cases continued to rise around the world.

This is good news for our Olympic athletes who have been training hard in a “bubble setting” in a sports facility in Laguna. Last December 15, the IATF approved the request of the Philippine Olympic Committee to resume the training of our athletes amidst strict health and safety protocols and infection countermeasures.

As the Philippines begins its COVID-19 mass vaccination rollout this month, our athletes who will be competing at the Tokyo Olympics should be included in the priority list for vaccination. The health of our athletes is a primordial consideration as they compete and bring hope and glory to our country.

Some 11,000 athletes from 200 countries were set to compete in the cancelled Tokyo Olympics last year. While it is not clear how many athletes and countries can participate this year, the foremost worry for the Japanese government, organizers, athletes, and national Olympic committees is the rate of COVID-19 infections not just in Tokyo but in competing countries as well. Medical experts and sports officials agree that vaccination is crucial for the Tokyo Olympics and other international sporting events to take place despite the pandemic.

The question might be posed: Why push through with the Tokyo Olympics when countries around the world have hardly begun to recover from the pandemic? The Olympic Games has always been a symbol of friendship, solidarity, and fair play among nations. It is a testament to what the human spirit can endure and overcome to claim victory. According to Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, the Tokyo Olympics will be a symbol of humanity overcoming the novel coronavirus, and a chance to showcase Japan’s reconstruction from the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami to the world.

I wish all our Filipino athletes Godspeed as they bring honor to our country in the Olympics! May their hard work and sacrifice bring inspiration and unity to us all.