MANILA – Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Bambol Tolentino on Tuesday said he is in favor of postponing the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics due to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
“I favor a postponement because the health and safety of everyone in sports — both in the Philippines and all over the world — is paramount in this Covid-19 pandemic,” Tolentino said in a statement.
Tolentino made this remark after long-serving International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Dick Pound told Christine Brennan of USA Today that the Tokyo Olympics have indeed been postponed due to Covid-19, marking the first time ever that the quadrennial meet was pushed to a later date from its original schedule.
“On the basis of the information the IOC has, the postponement has been decided,” Pound was quoted as saying by USA Today on Monday. “The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know.”
The 78-year-old Canadian added that the games will likely be moved to 2021 and that the IOC will announce its next steps soon.
“It will come in stages. We will postpone this and begin to deal with all the ramifications of moving this, which are immense,” Pound said.
In an announcement on Sunday, IOC president Thomas Bach indicated, for the first time, that postponing the Tokyo Games would be a possibility.
Bach also said the IOC will try to reach a decision within the next four weeks, but he emphasized that the IOC has ruled out canceling the games.
“It’s better to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Olympics rather than cancelation so as not to lose our chance for our first gold medal — or even more golds,” Tolentino further said. “More Filipinos have more chance to qualify.”
Tolentino said the postponement “would mean more time to train for those who have already qualified and for those who are still trying to qualify,” even calling the proposed pushing of the games to 2021 “ideal enough.”
Meanwhile, Tolentino advised all athletes, coaches, officials, and stakeholders to stay safe, stay at home and observe government and health department protocols “so we could defeat this virus.”
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier placed the entire Luzon under an enhanced community quarantine to prevent the further spread of Covid-19 which infected over 500 people in the country.
The fate of the Tokyo 2020 Games has been called into question, with mass gatherings canceled worldwide due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The virus, which emerged in Wuhan, China last December, has spread to at least 168 countries and regions around the globe, with over 360,000 confirmed cases and over 15,000 deaths, according to data compiled by US-based Johns Hopkins University. (PNA)