MANILA - The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) on Friday said it had set aside emergency funds in the event of adjustments in venues for the qualifying events due to concerns over the highly contagious coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
"The Philippine Olympic Committee is also preparing extra funds together with the PSC (Philippine Sports Commission). Meron tayong naka-allot na funds sa ibang country. 'Yung iba kasi may mga ticket nang nabili. That means gagastos na naman tayo for hotel bookings, for airline tickets," said POC deputy secretary general Richard Gomez.
Around 22 athletes have yet to qualify for the Olympics, Gomez said, adding that they are looking to send around 35 to 45 athletes to the Olympics depending on their performance in the qualifying events.
"Kaya lang ang iba nag-change ng venue kasi may mga countries na tumaas 'yung incident ng virus. In-adjust namin 'yung fund for those athletes na magka-qualify pa lang pero nalipat 'yung date at saka 'yung venue ng qualifying nila. Doon magkakaroon ng adjustment sa funding," he explained.
The Ormoc City mayor said the International Olympic Committee has yet to give final word on whether or not to push through with the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
"Most likely ang final announcement nila will be in May kasi maraming concerns ang tao regarding the coronavirus. In fact, maraming qualifiers ang kinansela all over the world and marami din nagwo-worry kung itutuloy ba 'yung Olympics. But as of yesterday, sa announcements ng International Olympic Committee, green pa rin ang Olympics sa Tokyo," he said in an interview with DZMM.
He said Japan has invested so much in the event and cancelling it would be a big loss and may cause significant impact on its economy.
"Kung walang problema sa coronavirus, last November pa lang fully booked na yung Tokyo for the Olympics. Ngayon, nagkaroon ng corona [virus], ang worry ng organizing committee ng Tokyo baka bumagsak 'yung number nung attendees at saka 'yung mga hotels hindi mapuno. That's why pinipilit nilang ma-control 'yung coronavirus sa Tokyo," he said.
Should the Tokyo Olympics be cancelled, he said the mayor of London has expressed readiness in hosting the games there.
On Thursday, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Japan might be included in Manila's travel ban depending on the new criteria which will be adopted by the Philippine inter-agency task force on the new coronavirus (COVID-19).
Japan has seen at least 186 cases of infection among the general population with 8 deaths, including 4 who passed away after contracting the virus in cruise ship docked off Yokohoma.
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website).