Olympic hopefuls may resume training this month, says Araneta

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 02 2020 05:17 PM

PFF president Mariano 'Nonong' Araneta is also the chef-de-mission of Team Philippines to the Tokyo Olympics. Handout

MANILA, Philippines -- The country's chef-de-mission to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is optimistic that Filipino athletes -- particularly those who still have a chance of qualifying to the Olympic Games -- can resume training this month.

Mariano "Nonong" Araneta, who is also the president of the Philippine Football Federation (PFF), said on Tuesday that the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) is studying the protocols that will guide the athletes in their return to training.

"Last month, I met with the PSC and POC (Philippine Olympic Committee), and the national sports associations (NSAs) that are still vying to qualify in the Olympics," Araneta said during the PSA Forum.

"We discussed about the submission of their safety protocols and also if they have venues in mind, they have to submit the venue and the safety protocols of the venue, as far as the venue is concerned," he explained.

"This has been submitted to the PSC," he added.

Among the possible training venues for the country's Olympic hopefuls is the Philsports Arena in Pasig, which was used as a quarantine facility for COVID-19 patients during the pandemic.

The venue is being prepared for athletes' use, according to Araneta.

"Ang sabi sa akin ni Marc (Velasco, the national training director), they think they can finish by this week. We're looking at the resumption of training, hopefully, not later than September 15 for all the athletes that are still vying for the Olympics," Araneta said.

At the moment, four Filipino athletes have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, which were postponed to 2021 because of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Gymnast Carlos Yulo, pole vaulter EJ Obiena, and boxers Irish Magno and Eumir Marcial are all already assured of slots in the Games.

According to Araneta, over 80 Filipino athletes are still seeking Olympic qualification, at least 60 of whom are based in the Philippines.

He guarantees that these athletes are being supported.

"They have submitted their budgets, and we submitted that to the PSC. We also had a Zoom meeting with the Congress' committee on youth and sports, and we discussed with them regarding this matter," Araneta said.

"They are gung ho on helping the PSC for some funding," he revealed.