MANILA, Philippines -- The UAAP is open to adding weightlifting and boxing -- and other Olympic sports -- to its calendar, but it will still be up to the member-schools if they will take on the challenge of expanding their athletic programs.
This, according to UAAP executive director Atty. Rebo Saguisag who said Tuesday that they have heard the calls of the country's Olympians to add the two sports to their programs.
Hidilyn Diaz, who delivered the country's first-ever Olympic gold, and boxers Nesthy Petecio, Eumir Marcial, and Carlo Paalam have asked not only the UAAP but also the NCAA to consider adding their sports to the collegiate athletic calendar, as it will be an excellent way to develop their sports.
Marcial, a bronze medalist in the Tokyo Games, said that amateur boxers also want to pursue their education but have to make a choice between their athletic and academic careers.
"Kung sa mga school natin, sa mga university natin, na may boxing, may tournament, tulad ng NCAA, so masasabay nila 'yung kurso nila. At the same time, mapapakita din nila kung may talent sila sa boxing," said Marcial recently.
In an episode of UAAP Talk, Saguisag stressed that they are well aware of the Olympians' request and are willing to discuss it.
"This is really worth revisiting. These two sports are worth revisiting, and at least siguro 'yung Olympic events should really have a place in the UAAP, because nga ang isang principle namin is really to support the national sports program," he said.
"So we're definitely very much open to that, and again thank you for our athletes, our Olympians," he added.
Saguisag revealed that he has already discussed this issue with Diaz after the 2016 Rio Olympics, where she won a silver medal.
"We're very much open. In fact, from the league standpoint, it's actually relatively easier. Kasi, of course, there will be expenses, it will entail organization, but from our point of view, madali 'yan," he said.
The challenge, he explained, is for the UAAP member-schools to add yet another varsity club -- a difficult proposition particularly in these times where athletic departments are also dealing with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"'Yung challenge is actually for the member-schools now. Kasi, sila 'yung mago-open up again ng new team, and to maintain those teams," said Saguisag. "Kasi kami, event lang naman eh."
"Ang UAAP just needs to organize these events, but for the schools, for the member-schools, it will mean new uniforms, scholarships, coaching, etc., etc. 'Yun probably baka maging challenge, especially now na we have the challenge nga of COVID-19. So 'yun ang isang thing," he said.
Diaz has also called on the Philippine Sports Commission and the Department of Education to include weightlifting in the Palarong Pambansa, a request that may soon be granted after DepEd opened up talks with the Samahang Weightlifting ng Pilipinas.