By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
AMID the uncertainties around the staging of the Olympic Games because of the coronavirus pandemic, organizers of the quadrennial sporting spectacle are making sure that proper health and safety protocols are in place, coming up with a “playbook,” which all participants need to follow.
And these “do’s and don’ts” have been relayed to the country’s national sports associations (NSAs), which have athletes who have qualified for the rescheduled Olympics in Tokyo this year and are still qualifying.
“We were actually given a playbook by the organizing committee, all of us chefs de mission. We gave the NSAs a playbook as well for those who have qualified and those still trying to qualify to make sure that they can compete safely and help protect the Games from any untoward incidents related to the coronavirus,” said Philippine chef de mission to the Olympics Mariano Araneta on The Chasedown program last Saturday.
“All the protocols must be followed. They (organizers) are very strict about it,” added Mr. Araneta, also president of the Philippine Football Federation.
He shared that among those covered in the playbook concerns designated transportation during the Games and taking public transportation is not allowed; shopping and sightseeing are greatly discouraged; and need for social distancing and proper hygiene, among others.
Currently, the Philippines has four athletes who have qualified from three NSAs, namely: pole-vaulter EJ Obiena, gymnast Caloy Yulo, and boxers Eumir Felix Marcial and Irish Magno.
Mr. Araneta, however, said that number could still rise with a number of athletes on the verge of qualifying.
He cited Hidilyn Diaz (weightlifting), Margielyn Didal (skateboarding), and golfers Yuka Saso and Bianca Pagdanganan as among the athletes with an inside track on Olympic qualification.
The local sports official further said organizers are not making coronavirus vaccines for athletes competing in the Games mandatory, but said he believes if athletes could get them prior, it would be better.
Mr. Araneta also reiterated that as per their briefing with organizers last week, the Olympics, set for July 23 to Aug. 8, is still a go and nothing has changed as far as the number of sports and participants.
The briefing with the different officials of participating countries was attended by International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach.