MANILA -- Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) executive Al Panlilio has high hopes for the country's Olympians for the upcoming Tokyo Games.
Panlilio, POC's first vice president, believes that with the current crop of Olympians, the Philippines could finally get that elusive Olympic gold medal.
"Sana at least one; if we can have more than one that would be great," said Panlilio, who is also the president and CEO of PLDT Inc., during the announcement of Cignal TV and Smart Communications Inc. as the Philippines' official broadcast partners for the Tokyo Olympics.
Already assured to compete in Tokyo are silver Olympic medalist weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, gymnast Caloy Yulo, boxers Eumir Marcial, Irish Magno, Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam, skateboarder Margielyn Didal, taekwondo jin Kurt Barbosa, rower Cris Nievarez, and pole vaulter EJ Obiena.
Also expected to qualify is newly crowned US Women's Open champion Yuka Saso.
"We have great potential in Caloy Yulo; Hidilyn was almost there in Rio," said Panlilio. "Yuka won the US Open in golf... She trains and competes in Japan, it's her backyard. Hopefully Yuka is one potential candidate."
"We have the boxers, we have taekwondo. Can we just aim for one? Sana more. I think everybody has a chance."
Panlilio is also hopeful that the Tokyo Games will push through despite persistent clamor from some quarters to postpone it anew due to COVID-19 concerns.
The Olympics, he said, could uplift morale all over the globe.
"I support that we really proceed with the Games. It gives hope and inspiration not only to Filipinos but to people globally. Unless something really bad happens, it should be a go," said Panlilio.
He also noted that athletes have already made great sacrifices to prepare for the Games.
"Obviously it's been tough for the athletes, you have to prime up to the peak of your abilities at a certain time when the actual competition happens. Now ne-de-defer 'yung Olympics, from 4-year cycle it became a 5-year cycle. It's very difficult for them to peak at the right moment," he said.
"But our athletes are very committed on performing especially with the flag on their chest, representing the country."
Meanwhile, the MVP group including Smart, PLDT and Cignal promised to deliver a comprehensive coverage of the Games.
Guido Zaballero, EVP and head of marketing of Cignal, said they will provide Olympic coverage through free TV as well as two pop-up channels dedicated to the Olympics.