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    Italy-based Obiena insists he's safe in lockdown, concedes to Olympic suspension

    Mar 24, 2020
    PHOTO: Jerome AscaƱo

    ALTHOUGH in the thick of his training for the Tokyo Olympics, pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena is open to the idea the Games won’t be pushing through later this year amid the growing threat of the coronavirus.

    Obiena said the safety and health of athletes and just about everyone else should always be the top priority, never mind even if it meant putting aside the long hours of training he already invested in a country that has now become the epicenter of the worldwide pandemic.

    “It’s a lot bigger than sports, so we hope everything falls into place and we hope the Olympic pushes through,” said the 24-year-old Filipino, interviewed by veteran broadcaster and former SPIN.ph columnist Chino Trinidad on 24 Oras on Tuesday night from Formia, Italy where he is currently based.

    “But we have to accept the fact that there’s really a big chance that it’s not going to happen this year.”

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    Obiena finds himself in a quandary now with the looming postponement of the Olympics.

    In as much as he wants to go back home, the country’s first qualifier to the Tokyo Games couldn’t leave Formia as Italy is now in total lockdown for having the most number of coronavirus cases with 63,927 and 6,077 number of deaths as per worldometers.info as of Tuesday.

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    But the 6-foot-2 trackster, who won the gold in last year’s 30th Southeast Asian Games in Manila, said he feels safe where he stays in Italy, admitting he even underwent testing for the dreaded disease.

    Obiena stays just nearby the venue he regularly goes to train.

    “I would say that I’m in a safe place. The training center is very strict. To be honest, nobody goes in anymore other than the athletes,” he said. “They’re testing us every day, like they’re checking our temperature, and during the midst of the lockdown, we did the testing for coronavirus.

    “Nakaka-ensayo naman ako pero hindi ko alam kung matutuloy ang Olympics.”

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      Aside from Obiena, the country has three more athletes who qualified to the Tokyo Games including world gymnastics champion Carlos Yulo and boxers Eumir Marcial and Irish Magno.

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      PHOTO: Jerome AscaƱo
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