Obiena, Watanabe announced as PH team flag-bearers for Tokyo Olympics opening

Published July 8, 2021, 5:14 PM

by Kristel Satumbaga-Villar

EJ Obiena and Kiyomi Watanabe

Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Bambol Tolentino announced Thursday, July 8, that pole vaulter EJ Obiena and judoka Kiyomi Watanabe will be the country’s flag-bearers to the Tokyo Olympics set July 23 to Aug. 3.

Tolentino reiterated all 19 Filipino athletes are qualified and deserving to carry the flag to the opening ceremonies, but the selection was logically based on the flight, competition schedule and availability of athletes.

Obiena is scheduled to compete on July 31 while Watanabe’s match starts on July 27.

Tolentino also said only six technical officials are allowed to parade at the ceremonies along with the two flag-bearers in adherence to the safety and health protocols.

The officials who will take part in the opening are PH team’s chief of mission Nonong Araneta, judo chief Dave Carter, swimming president Lani Velasco, gymnastics chief Cynthia Carrion, skateboarding’s Daniel Bautista and boxing coach Nolito Velasco.

Obiena was the first Filipino to qualify to the Games after hitting the Olympic standard at an Italian meet in 2019.

A 2018 Asian Games silver medalist, Watanabe, meanwhile, secured a berth through Continental Quota in the women’s middleweight (63kgs) division.