EJ Obiena might be replaced as Olympic flag-bearer due to schedule constraints

Published July 13, 2021, 5:12 PM

by Kristel Satumbaga-Villar

EJ Obiena

Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Bambol Tolentino said they might replace pole vaulter EJ Obiena as the country’s male flag-bearer at the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics due to the latest protocols.

Under the new protocol, flag-bearers must be in Tokyo 48 hours before the July 23 opening.

Tolentino said Obiena is scheduled to arrive from Formia, Italy on July 23 and his travel itinerary can no longer be changed.

“Nagkakaroon din kasi ng ‘bottleneck’ sa arrivals at the airport dahil andaming mga protocols. May iba dyan mga five hours nasa airport,” said Tolentino during Tuesday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association Online Forum.

The POC will look into the travel and competition details of the remaining male athletes before announcing the changes by Wednesday.

Judoka Kiyomi Watanabe is the country’s female flag-bearer.

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

Aside from Obiena, other Filipino male athletes competing in the Games are Juvic Pagunsan of golf, Carlos Yulo of gymnastics, boxers Eumir Marcial and Carlo Paalam, shooter Jayson Valdez, taekwondo jin Kurt Barbosa, rower Cris Nievarez and swimmer Luke Gebbie.

However, Nievarez is competing in the morning heats on July 23 while Gymnastics Association of the Philippines (GAP) chief Cynthia Carrion has already begged off for Yulo to be selected due to the gymnast’s competition schedule on July 24.