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Shut down for now

June 04, 2020 - Thursday 4:06 AM by Jimmy Laking

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Any chance we will get to see Hidilyn Diaz back in action is not likely to happen.

Make no mistake. Diaz, the country’s lone silver medalist in the 2016 summer Olympics, remains our best bet for that elusive Olympic gold in the estimate of Philippine Sports Chair William “Butch” Ramirez.

Diaz is side-tracked for now, no thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics — the world’s largest sporting event — has been moved to July 2021. But even this tethers on uncertainty if no vaccine is found against the virus. Sans a vaccine, the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics rescheduled for 2021 will be canceled.

This is the specter that the organizing committee in Japan, a country that has seen through a lot of adversities, is prepared to accept.

The equation may change if a vaccine turns out this year to kill the virus. And should this happen, Philippine Olympic Committee President Abraham Tolentino wants national athletes competing in next year’s Summer Olympics prioritized in its allocation.

Tolentino, who represents Tagaytay City in the House of Representatives, said he would strongly lobby for this to happen as part of the preparations for the Olympics.

Why so? Tolentino told reporters in Manila on Tuesday that in case the vaccine is found, it is likely to come expensive. “Maraming mag-aagawan diyan. So diyan na tayo tutulong.”

“Hence there is need for appropriation to purchase the medicine for those preparing for the Olympics,” he said.

The same goes, he said, for all national athletes expected to compete next year the South East Asian games with Vietnam as host. They will be amply provided for.

So far, Tolentino said gymnast Carlos Yulo, boxers Eumir Felix Marcial and Irish Magno, and pole vaulter EJ Obiena are the only Filipino athletes who have qualified for the Olympic Games.

Diaz, along with other national hopefuls, will still vie for a slot to play in the Olympics. Ramirez said judo and taekwondo may likely deliver the medals courtesy of several Filipino-Japanese stand-outs.

Ramirez expressed hope that the extra motivation in winning the gold will enable Filipino standard bearers to excel.

The gold medalist pockets P10 million outright but is assured of another P10 million from President Duterte himself. A silver medal is assured of P5 million, while a bronze gets P2 million.

Ramirez said the rewards could be life-changing especially for those who come from impoverished backgrounds. “I have seen many athletes who helped their families build houses, send their siblings to school, or start businesses.”

And as far as that goes, he likes to emphasize the fact that majority of national athletes come from poor families. And that more often than not, those excelling in taekwondo, equestrian, and swimming come from well-off families.

On Monday, Ramirez gave assurance that the PSC is committed to give national athletes and coaches the financial assistance entitled them.

This came on the wake of the PSC’s decision to cut the allowances of members of the national team by half.

The decision came after the Philippine Gaming Corporation handed over a remittance of only P9 million to the PSC. The cutbacks would apply to the months of July to December.

Despite this, Ramirez said the national team remained upbeat. Its members are deep in training and preparations for both the SEA Games and the Summer Olympics.

He said there was positive feedback, both physiologically and psychology, from the athletes.

Ramirez also gave assurance that once the National Sports Development Fund reaches a comfortable level again, full financial assistance will be restored.

Let us cross our fingers all will be well in God’s grace.