Olympic, FIBA Asia, IOC blues

By Jesus A. Garcia, Jr.

 

IN the last few days, there were disturbing wire reports in the world of sports that affected our national athletes in world competitions especially in the much-awaited 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games that was supposed to be staged last year but was re-slated this coming July 23 – August 8 (obviously due to the COVID-19 pandemic).

Latest reports say that with or without the pandemic, the quadrennial meet will definitely push through. Reports also said that the organizing Tokyo Olympic Games Organizing Committee that already spent millions of U.S. dollars owing to the postponement, alone, warned that another deferment will mean a cancellation finally of the games.

But notwithstanding those reports, our national sports associations and national athletes, especially our Gilas five (basketball) that vigorously continues its intensive training through the “bubble system” in Calamba, Laguna. They’ve been at it in preparation for the FIBA Asia qualifying round to be held in Doha, Qatar on February 18-22. But as the “expect the unexpected,” saying goes, the Doha matches were suddenly scrapped last February 12, a day before our Gilas five was scheduled to fly to the venue.

According to FIBA Asia executive officials, the last-minute cancellation of the games was due to the spike in COVID -19 cases in the host country. It was the second time for the FIBA Asia qualifying round for the coming Tokyo Olympic Games to be postponed due to the killer disease.

Our Gilas five was initially scheduled to face arch-rival South Korea. It was supposed to be starred by the young lanky seven-foot-three Kai Sotto who sacrificed his US activities and flew to the Philippines just to work on an effective team play with his country mates. The Philippines was originally assigned by FIBA Asia to host the matches in Clark Field, Pampanga but our basketball national governing body, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) assigned to govern the tourney, begged off, realizing that the uptick of the COVID-19 cases and travel restrictions of some participating nations could pose a number of complications for the preparations. As of this writing, no alternative venue has been identified to host the prestigious event.

Then, there is also the second delay in the boxing qualifying tournament supposed to be held in Paris, France on May 13-20 but this, too, was rescheduled to June (no definite date yet) precisely due to the increase of COVID-19 cases. The International Olympic Committee Task Force in boxing deferred the qualifying round for Asia, Africa and Oceania, for the time being, but continued to reassure the 40 participating nations that the next official dates would be announced this month. Yes, hopefully!

Boxing is the event where we have bigger chances of winning a medal in any Olympic Games. This was evident in the past. Records show that our highest boxing medal giver in Olympic Games were won by my friend and sports contemporary, the late Anthony Villanueva in the 1964 Tokyo and Mansueto Velasco in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Both bagged silver medals. So far, we already have two qualifiers for the coming Tokyo Olympic Games, namely Eumir Marcial in the men’s middleweight division and Irish Magno in the flyweight category. In the coming qualifying round, joining the fray will be Carlo Paalam (flyweight) from Cagayan de Oro, Ian Clark Bautista (featherweight) from Negros Occidental, Filipino-British John Marvin (light heavyweight). Our lone entry in the women’s division is Nesthy Petecio from Davao del Sur.

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God. But made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. PHILIPPIANS 2: 6-8

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