ASSOCIATION of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) President Ricky Vargas admitted he’ll be totally disappointed if ever the Tokyo Olympics will be totally scrapped later this year.
While he stressed the safety and welfare of athletes remain the primary concern, Vargas said calling off the July 23 to August 8 Summer Games would be depriving the athletes of the honor and glory after working and training hard the past two years despite the COVID-19 pandemic just to be able to compete.
At the same time, the current PBA chairman pointed out the country’s best chance of winning a breakthrough Olympic gold would be put to waste if the event would not push through according to schedule.
“Kawawa naman yung mga atleta natin who qualified. This has also been their dream. You’re like stealing away what they worked hard for, stealing away a part of them by not allowing the Olympics to push through,” said Vargas. “It would be a big disappointment if it would not.
“So we wholeheartedly want the Tokyo Olympics to happen in July.”
Despite the availability of the vaccines, cases of COVID-19 around the world remains high, including Tokyo which has the highest rates in all of Japan.
A survey conducted last month showed eight out of 10 Japanese are not in favor of pushing through with the Olympics, although the Tokyo Organizing Committee and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) repeatedly said preparations for the Games remain on target.
Originally, it was scheduled July 24 to August 9 of 2020, but was deferred for a year following the outbreak of the pandemic.
So far, four Filipinos have qualified in the Olympics, namely pole vaulter EJ Obiena, world gymnastics champion Carlos Yulo, and the boxing pair of Eumir Marcial and Irish Magno.
A lot more are bidding to make the cut, with weightlifter and Olympic silver medal winner Hidilyn Diaz, Asian Games gold medal winners Margielyn Didal of skateboarding and Yuka Saso and Bianca Pagdanganan of golf, and boxers Carlo Paalam and world champion Nesthy Petecio among the prominent ones.
“This is our best chance. Malas lang talaga nagkaroon ng pandemya,” said Vargas, the former Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president. “This is the best chance we have in ABAP, the best chance we have even in Philippine sports.
“Naumpisahan na natin ito, nandun na tayo. Pinangarap natin ito, e.”
A total of 13 athletes represented the country in the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, with Diaz bagging the silver in the women’s 53 kg event to end a 20-year medal drought for the Philippines.
With more still in line to qualify, Vargas sees an even bigger Filipino contingent in Tokyo, with several of them potential medalists.
“Never in our history in sports that we have these many athletes (qualifying). Kelan pa mababalik yung ganito na we have the chance to send as many athletes?,” said Vargas.
“So I myself would really want this to push though.”