MANILA, Philippines - Despite the strict criteria, the number of Filipino athletes to the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon may exceed those for the 2010 Asiad in Guangzhou or the recent SEA Games in Myanmar.
However, Philippine Sports Commission chairman Richie Garcia said it doesn’t mean that the country will need to spend more.
“It’s not going to be very expensive,” said Garcia, chief of the government’s funding arm in sports and chef-de-mission of the Philippine team to Incheon in September.
He said it’s easier and cheaper to get to Incheon than to Guangzhou or Myanmar due to the presence of direct flights from the Philippines, either from Manila or Cebu or even Boracay.
“If you can’t make the flight from Manila there are other options but still it’s a direct flight so it’s cheaper,” said Garcia, adding that they will send “as many qualified athletes” to Incheon.
For the Myanmar SEA Games, Filipino athletes needed to fly to Singapore thenYangon before heading to the main hub of Naypyitaw. To some, it took 17 hours to get there, including those who had to take a five-hour bus ride from Yangon to Naypyitaw.
In Guangzhou, a total of 188 athletes represented the Philippines in 29 sports and brought home three gold, four silver and nine bronze medals. In Myanmar, 210 athletes saw action and won for the Philippines 29 golds, 34 silvers and 37 bronzes.
Garcia said the presence of more team events like basketball, softball, rugby, football, baseball and indoor volleyball in Incheon may increase the number of athletes.
“Team events will increase the numbers but surprisingly it will be cheaper because Manila to Korea is cheaper than Manila to Myanmar,” said Garcia.
Still, the PSC chairman stressed that the doors are not open to everybody.
“Definitely we will be very strict,” he said.
Garcia heads the task force that set up the criteria for the selection of the Philippine delegation and so far they’re only looking at athletes who stand in the top five of an Asian event.