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Boxer Eumir Marcial will replace gymnast Ernest John “EJ” Obiena as the Philippines’ male flagbearer alongside judoka Kiyomi Watanabe in the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics on July 23 at the National Stadium.
Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino explained that the move was made since it was more convenient for Marcial to carry out the task as he will already be in Tokyo this weekend.
“He (Marcial) has the most flexible schedule before and after the opening ceremony,” said Tolentino. “We have already informed Eumir about his task and we are very thankful to EJ for understanding. He cannot rebook his flight anymore.”
Marcial took multiple flights from his training camp in Colorado Springs in the US on Thursday and is set to arrive in Tokyo on Saturday, six days before the opening ceremony. Obiena, on the other hand, will be coming in from Italy and will be in Japan just hours before the opening ceremony.
“Because of protocols, EJ should be expecting delays at the airport and that would make it impossible for him to catch the opening ceremony,” Tolentino added.
Marcial, who turned professional last year, will make his Olympic debut on July 25 in the men’s middleweight round-of-32.(JNP)