LONDON— In its first official act as member of the London Olympic family, Team Philippines will join several other nations in the traditional welcome and flag-raising rites on Saturday inside the sprawling Games Village, home to more than 15,000 athletes and officials from 204 nations in the next three weeks.
Nine athletes and a handful of officials as well as some guests from the Philippine embassy and Filipino community will be in attendance during the morning program as Team Philippines and at least 10 other countries join the traditional ceremony ahead of the Games’ grand opening on July 27.
Only boxer Mark Anthony Barriga and BMX rider Danny Caluag will not be around during the 11:30 a.m. rite, which concludes with a 25-minute cultural performance by 75 young Britons reflecting the nation’s music, culture and tradition.
According to Team Philippines chief of mission Manny Lopez, ambassador Enrique Manalo will grace the affair along with a few members of the Filipino community in this beautiful city now in the midst of Olympic fever.
“This (flag raising) is our first official act as member of the London Olympic family,” said Lopez, who arrived on Wednesday to pave the way for the arrival of the Filipino athletes and officials at the Village.
In another highlight, an athlete each from the countries joining the ritual this morning will sign on the Olympic Truce Wall, which forms the backdrop for the ceremonies set at the Plaza in the heart of the Village.
Lopez said long jumper Marestella Torres will most likely do the honor for Team Philippines, being a two-time Olympian and the most battle-scarred member of the team supported by ICTSI, Bank of Philippine Islands, Mizuno, Samsonite, Petron, Procter & Gamble, PSC, Philracom, Smart Sports and TV5.
The traditional exchange of gifts will also take place after the rites,with Lopez giving the Village mayor a commemorative passenger jeepney.
Barriga and Caluag won’t make it because they have yet to conclude their final buildup, with the boxer still training in Cardiff, Wales and the cyclist doing his chores in the Netherlands. They will join their teammates on July 24.
Aside from Torres, who first saw action in the Beijing Olympics, the other athletes attending the program are archers Mark Javier and Rachel Cabral, swimmers Jessie Lacuna and Jasmine Alkhaldi, judoka Tomohiko Hoshina, weighlifter Hidilyn Diaz, long distance runner Rene Herrera and shooter Brian Rosario.
Coaches Josefina Corral (shooting), Tony Agustin (weighlifting), Joseph Sy (athletics), Yasuhiro Sato (judo), Carlos Brosas (swimming), administrative officer Arsenic Lacson and press officer Joe S. Antonio will also attend the program.