IOC extends helping hand to Philippines

By Abac Cordero, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jan 19 2014 12:43 PM | Updated as of Jan 19 2014 08:43 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Even from within the international sports community, sympathy continued to pour in for the Philippines, which was hit hard by Typhoon Yolanda last November.

The International Olympic Committee yesterday announced that it is donating $450,000 or P20 million to the Philippine Olympic Committee more than two months after the disaster.

The donation was formalized through a letter addressed to POC chief Jose Cojuangco and signed by IOC president Thomas Bach and Olympic Council of Asia chief Sheilk Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah.

The money will be spent for the rehabilitation of sports facilities damaged by the typhoon. It may also be used to purchase sports equipment.

The Japan Olympic Committee also announced that it is donating $30,000 for the Yolanda relief efforts as the 32nd OCA General Assembly came to a close yesterday at the PICC.

For two days, more than a hundred OCA delegates tackled their plans and programs for the coming years, and most if not all expressed their sympathy to the country.

The other day, Al-Sabah also signed a memorandum of agreement with Cojuangco regarding an ambitious agricultural project aimed at helping farmers in the devastated provinces.

Together they put up the Kuwaiti-Philippines Peace and Development Foundation.

Still, the big news came on the final day of the country’s successful hosting of the star-studded OCA gathering. It came in the form of the IOC donation.

“It is with great shock and consternation that we have witnessed the appalling devastation in your country caused by the passage of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) and we would first and foremost like to express our sympathy to you and the people of the Philippines,” the IOC said.

The IOC said it is also aware that “the needs of your NOC (National Olympic Committee) and indeed your country as a whole are of towering proportions.”

The donation or subsidy represents $150,000 in equal shares from the IOC itself, the Olympic Solidarity Program and the OCA.

The money will be used to rebuild sports facilities and purchase sports equipment. To help the POC oversee the implementation of the project is IOC representative to the Philippine Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski.

“That is why it was such a privilege for us to host this event,” said the POC chief.

“These people are all capable of helping. All that was needed was to explain to them where the money will go, who will handle the money and how it will be spent,” he said.

Vice President Jejomar Binay delivered the keynote address before more than a hundred delegates. He stayed on for more than an hour and was a big hit, with sports officials from the different countries extending personal greetings and having pictures taken with him.

In his short speech, Binay, chairman of the Philippine Badminton Association, stressed the importance of sports and urged the delegates to help each other. He also thanked all OCA and IOC members who attended the two-day event.

While the OCA shouldered the bulk of the expenses for the general assembly, including airfare and hotel accommodations of the delegates, the Philippines put its best foot forward.

During Friday’s welcome dinner, Cojuangco delivered a short but very meaningful speech.

“I thank you all for being here in our country in our hour of sadness. Your presence and all your contribution to this event is greatly appreciated,” he said.

Cojuangco thanked Al-Sabah for “insisting” that the event be held in the country despite the Yolanda crisis..

“And it makes us so happy to know that the world of sports is behind us in this time of sadness. It is our privilege to host this event,” he said.

The foreign delegates gave the POC chief a warm round of applause.

“Your hospitality is overwhelming,” said Low Beng Choo, the vice president of the Malaysia Olympic Committee.