Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino aims to send 626 athletes in 39 sports, among them esports, to the 31st Vietnam Southeast Asian Games in November to defend the overall crown the country regained in the regional meet staged by the country two years ago.
Tolentino, president of the cycling federation and also congressman of the lone district of Tagaytay, identified the number of athletes and sports in a letter he handed personally to Philippine Sports Commission chairman William “Butch” Ramirez inside his office at the PhilSports Complex in Pasig City last Wednesday.
“On behalf of the Philippine Olympic Committee, I present to you the country’s entry by numbers to the 31st Southeast Asian Games to Hanoi, Vietnam from November 21 to December 2, 2021,” Tolentino wrote.
“After careful review, this (list) has been prepared with the end of victory for our beloved country,” the POC president said, so as “to be able to do our best and continue to defend our title as the overall champion of the 30th edition of the biennial regional games.”
“We are looking forward to your positive response regarding the matter,” he added, hoping that the PSC could bankroll the Philippine delegation’s training and participation in the SEA Games.
Tolentino will submit the entries by number to the Vietnamese SEAG organizers on March 23, while the final roster is expected to be completed by September after being screened by the joint POC-PSC Task force that includes obstacle course head Atty. Al Agra and triathlon chief Tom Carrasco.
The country’s standard-bearers achieved a bumper-crop harvest of 114 gold, 117 silver and 121 bronzes in 56 sports to recapture overall honors on homesails in the country’s fourth staging of the regional sports showcase in 2019.
Tolentino has said he would be happy if the Filipino bets would finish third in the overall standings among 11 participating countries in the SEA Games to be staged in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi.
To cut costs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic while boosting their own efforts in wresting the overall championship, the Vietnamese hosts trimmed the calendar of sports in the next Games to 40, stacking it with disciplines their athletes have the best chances for gold.
In the list Tolentino submitted, aquatics was allotted 17 athletes: one for men’s diving and 16 — 8 men and 8 women — for swimming.
Fin swimming, a SEA Games gold mine for Vietnam in its inaugural hosting in 2003, was given 1 slot for men and 4 for women while archery was awarded 6 slots — 3 men and 3 women — in the compound event.
Given its outstanding performance in the 30th SEA Games where it delivered 11 gold, 8 silver and 8 bronze medals, and with 43 golds up for grabs, athletics was given 63 slots: 38 for men and 25 for women.
With Filipinos the reigning SEA Games champions in both the regular basketball and 3x3 contests, a total of 38 athletes were penciled in: 15 each for the men’s and women’s teams in regular basketball and four apiece in the 3x3 squads.
Badminton has 6 while billiards and snooker 8 (6 men, 2 women); bodybuilding 10 (5 men, 5 women); bowling 6 (3 men, 3 women); boxing 13 (8 men, 5 women); canoe-kayak 19 (14 men, 5 women); chess 16 (8 men, 8 women); Chinese board game xianqi 4; cycling 39 (32 men, 7 women);
Dancesport 8 (4 men, 4 women); esports (16 men, 2 women), fencing 24 (12 men, 12 women); football 28 (14 men, 14 women); golf 7 (4 men, 3 women); gymnastics 25 (10 men, 15 women); handball 10 men; judo 18 (9 men, 8 women); jiu-jitsu (4 men, 2 women); karate 15; kickboxing 12 (6 men, 6 women); kurash 10 (5 men, 5 women);
Muaythai 12 (5 men, 7 women); pencak silat 16; rowing 14 (9 men, 4 women); sepak takraw 6 men, shooting 16 (10 men, 6 women); table tennis 3 men; taekwondo 24 (12 men, 12 women); tennis 8 (4 men, 4 women);
Triathlon/duathlon 8 (4 men, 4 women); volleyball 30 (15 men, 15 women); beach volleyball 6 (3 men, 3 women); Vietnamese ethnic martial arts vovinam 6 (4 men, 2 women); weightlifting 14 (7 men, 7 women); wrestling 13; and wushu 21 (9 men and 3 women).
PSC commissioner Ramon Fernandez, who is also the PH SEA Games chef de mission, said the PSC support will depend on the allotment that the Department of Budget of Management will release by April for the country’s international sports commitments.
Fernandez said the PSC is asking for close to P400 million from the DBM, with P150 million for the Philippine participation and training for the Tokyo Olympics, P200 million for the same items in the Vietnam SEA Games, P17 million for the World Paralympic Games, and P30 million for the Vietnam Para Games.
He explained this was due to the reduced remittances of the Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corp.’s remittances to the PSC’s National Sports Development Fund, the main source of financial assistance of these overseas undertakings.
Fernandez said even Ramirez had appealed to the NSAs to raise their own funds to cover the shortfall of the government sports agency.
Once reaching average monthly highs of P150 million to P160 million, PAGCOR’S remittances were drastically cut after casinos halted operations all over the country for several months last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The situation has yet to return to normal since gaming establishments have not fully opened due to the health and safety protocols imposed by national government authorities to curb the spread of the highly-contagious and lethal virus.
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