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COVID-19 pandemic bigger than the Olympics — pole vaulter EJ Obiena

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By Nick Giongco

Filipino pole vaulter EJ Obiena has come to realize that there is nothing more precious in the world than saving human lives.

EJ Obiena (Handout photo)

EJ Obiena (Handout photo)

As the death toll escalates in Italy, where he has been training amid the worsening conditions, Obiena told the Manila Bulletin that efforts to move the Tokyo Olympics from its original date of July 24-Aug. 9 seems to be the best option.

Admitting that a scrapping of the Tokyo Games is going to be utterly heartbreaking not only to him but fellow athletes, the 6-2 Obiena insists that “things (COVID-19) are currently bigger than sports (Tokyo Olympics.)”

While aware that the Japanese organizers and the International Olympic Committee are now being pressured to act immediately, Obiena remains confident they will come up with the right decision.

“I leave it to the officials who know more on what should be done regarding the matter,” said Obiena, who became the first Filipino athlete to make the Olympic grade last September after topping a European tournament.

So far, Obiena and world champion gymnast Carlos Yulo and boxers Eumir Felix Marcial and Irish Magno, have earned Olympic tickets.

With all the news surrounding the fate of the Olympics, Obiena swears he feels “indifferent.”

“I don’t really have a opinion on the matter. My mindset now is if ever the Olympics is going now then I’m gonna be ready (but) if the Olympics is going in next year, (then) I’m gonna be ready, too.”

Obiena is just a few select athletes allowed to continue training in the city of Formia, a seaside spot halfway between Rome and Naples.

In Italy alone, the death toll has reached over 6,000 as the total number has passed 15,000 worldwide.

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