Olympic hopefuls may soon resume training

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 27 2020 06:18 PM

MANILA, Philippines -- The country's Olympic hopefuls may soon resume their preparation for their qualifying competitions.

This, as the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) is working with various national sports associations (NSAs) as well as the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) in getting the approval of the government for the athletes to begin training again.

Mariano "Nonong" Araneta, the country's chef de mission to the Tokyo Olympics next year, reported during a committee meeting at the House of Representatives that the PSC is looking to bring over 80 Olympic hopefuls back to training.

"Right now, 21 athletes are training abroad, and 65 athletes training here in the Philippines so that's a total of 86 athletes," Araneta said. "Four have already qualified so we're saying that there are still 82 athletes that are training to qualify for the Olympics."

"At the moment, for those who are in the Philippines, we are just waiting for PSC to submit to IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) the training protocols that include the venues and the health protocols that the sports associations have submitted," he added. 

According to Marc Velasco, the PSC's national training director, the agency is already preparing health protocols and identifying at least six multipurpose venues for the planned resumption of training.

Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) president Vince Dizon also offered to cover the RT-PCR testing of the athletes, according to Velasco.

"We are working with the POC and the NSAs, which would endorse the athletes that are going to qualify," he explained. "(They) will be the only ones allowed to enter the Philsports."

"We would also have support staff, who will also undergo safety protocols like the testing, to assist. They will be inside the Philsports where we also have adequate medical and health facilities," he added.

The Tokyo Olympics had been postponed to next year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Before it was postponed, the Philippines had already qualified four athletes to the Games -- pole vaulter EJ Obiena, gymnast Carlos Yulo, and boxers Irish Magno and Eumir Felix Marcial. Of the four, Obiena and Yulo are training abroad, as they are in Italy and Japan, respectively.

Other athletes such as Rio Olympics silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz, multiple-time Southeast Asian Games champion Kiyomi Watanabe, and Asian Games gold medalist Margielyn Didal are also expected to qualify.

In the same hearing, the Committee on Youth and Sports Development promised their support to the agency after chairman William "Butch" Ramirez asked for a boost of the country's funds for Olympic athletes.

(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website).