TOKYO — Hidilyn Diaz and the Philippines' first-ever Olympic gold medal are coming home.
Just two days after ruling the women’s -55-kilogram finals in weightlifting at the Tokyo International Forum in record fashion, Diaz and her team are scheduled to fly home on Wednesday aboard a Philippine Arlines flight.
Stringent health protocols, both here and in Manila, ruled out an extended stay in the Olympics for the 30-year old trailblazer from Zamboanga or lavish welcome or a ticker tape parade once her plane lands in Manila.
“It’s mandatory,” said Philippine Olympic Committee president Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino, referring to strict protocols put in place by the Tokyo Olympics Organizing Committee (Tocog) in the first Games to be held during a pandemic.
Athletes, coaches, officials and even media are required to leave Japan within 48 hours after the completion of their events or tasks as prescribed by the Tokyo Olympics Playbook.
The early departure isn't all bad for Diaz, who on Monday night said she can't wait to reunite with her family who she hasn't seen in years.
"More important is that Hidilyn wants to be with her family who she haven’t seen for more than one and a half years now," Tolentino said.
Too bad that before any reunion can take place, Diaz and her team — Chinese coach Gao Kaiwen and strength and conditioning coach Julius Naranjo — will have to undergo hotel quarantined for seven days as required by the Inter Agency Task Force (IATF) on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.
Offiicials are mum on whether an arrival ceremony will be held upon Diaz's arrival.
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