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Growing support

Given the situation right now, coronavirus is a real pandemic and I would agree with the postponement of the Games to, maybe, 2021.

Ian Suyu

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NATHALIE Uy is among the Filipino athletes who have yet to punch an Olympic ticket. / PHOTOGRAPH by RIO DELUVIO for the DAILY TRIBUNE

The Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association (PATAFA) formally joined the growing list of sports federations who are supporting the possible postponement of the Tokyo Olympics.

PATAFA president Philip Ella Juico said pushing back the Summer Games is the most practical step since the present condition is not suitable for serious preparation and competition following the global outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

As of Tuesday morning, a total of 378,741 cases have been recorded with a death toll of 16,502 around the world, including in countries that actively participate in the Summer Games like China, Japan, Spain, Italy and the United States.

With that, countries like Canada, Switzerland and Australia put tremendous pressure on the International Olympic Committee (IOC), saying that they will not allow their athletes to compete if the Summer Games will still push through on 24 July.

Even the president of the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF) Sebastian Coe of Great Britain called for the postponement of the Games.

In a letter to IOC president Thomas Bach, Coe said holding the Olympics in July is “neither feasible or desirable” because of the crisis that did not only deliver a massive blow on the global heath, but on the economy as well.

“While we all know that different parts of the world are at different stages of the virus, the unanimous view across all our areas is that an Olympic Games in July this year is neither feasible nor desirable,” Coe, the chief organizer of the London Olympics in 2012, told Bach in a letter.

Bach sought for a four-week deadline before formally making a decision.

Even the country’s Olympic chief of mission Mariano Araneta backs the postponement.

“I support the postponement,” said Araneta, who is supposed to visit Tokyo for an ocular inspection at the end of this March.

“All sporting events except the Olympics are being postponed. We have to look at the welfare and safety of the athletes, fans, officials and other delegates first before anything else.”

Other officials who are batting for Olympic postponement are Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham Tolentino, boxing secretary general Ed Picson and weightlifting president Monico Puentevella.

Juico said he is also in favor of postponing the Olympics.

“Given the situation right now, coronavirus is a real pandemic and I would agree with the postponement of the Games to, maybe, 2021,” said Juico, a seasoned sport official who served as chairman of the Philippine Sports Commission.

“What’s happening is very tough and many people are in danger of contracting the virus that might even lead to death.”

PATAFA, which cornered 11 gold medals in the previous Southeast Asian Games in Manila, is one of the national federations heavily expected to send a lot of athletes in the prestigious quadrennial meet.

Pole vault ace EJ Obiena already punched an Olympic ticket following an impressive performance in a tournament in Italy while two-time Olympian Eric Cray, Filipino-American sprinter Kristina Knott, thrower Willie Morrison, vaulter Nathalie Uy and long distance specialist Christine Hallasgo are all tipped to make it.

Obiena is deep in training under noted mentor Vitaly Petrov in the IAAF Training Center in Formia, Italy while Morrison, Knott, Cray and Uy are all in the United States bidding for Olympic slots.

The pandemic, however, had put clamps on their campaign as a lot of Olympic qualifying tournament, including the 18th World Athletics Indoor Championships from 13 to 15 March in Nanjing, China, were halted.

“As you see, this virus is throwing the preparations of athletes around the world off their tracks,” Juico said, adding that only 43 percent of Olympic allocations have been filled out due to the cancellation of various tournaments around the world.

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