MANILA, Philippines – With 6 months to go before the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Team Philippines is working towards supporting more national athletes who are seeking to qualify for the quadrennial meet in Japan.
In a meeting with various national sports association (NSA) representatives on Wednesday, January 22, Team Philippines chef de mission (CDM) to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Mariano “Nonong” Araneta narrowed down the list to a realistic target of 38 Olympians for the Tokyo 2020 edition.
According to Araneta, there are originally 49 more athletes, aside from gymnast Carlos Yulo and pole vaulter EJ Obiena, across 15 sports that are vying for a slot in the biggest multi-sport event that will run from July 24 to August 9.
Only archery and triathlon have not been included in the list of sports due to their absence in the first chef de mission meeting.
In the running for an Olympics berth are 2016 Rio silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz, skateboarder Margielyn Didal and and golfer Yuka Saso, as their current rankings virtually assure them of an appearance in the quadrennial meet.
Araneta also mentioned that boxing will possibly be the sport with the largest delegation as 6 Filipino pugs, bannered by women’s world champion Nesthy Petecio and men’s world silver medalist Eumir Marcial, have a strong chance to snagging a slot in their upcoming Olympic qualifiers in February and May.
Team Philippines is also pinning its hopes on the country’s 3×3 men’s basketball team that nailed a berth in the Olympic qualifier to be held in March.
To add to the P100 million budget committed by President Rodrigo Duterte, Philippines Sports Commission (PSC) chairman Butch Ramirez hopes that the agency can receive an additional P200 million for the long-term goal of sustaining the athletes’ performances until the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.
“We have to motivate the government leadership na hindi lang ito sa pang-Tokyo. Dapat mag-add ang Presidente ng P200 million kasi ito (Tokyo), maliit lang ang gastos kasi 6 months lang pero kung titignan for 3 Olympic cycles, mahabang proseso iyan,” said Ramirez.
(We have to motivate the government leadership that we’re not only looking at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. The President should add P200 million because the expenses for Tokyo, which will be spent within 6 months, are not as big as what we would spend for 3 Olympic cycles. That’s a long process.)
As of now, only Yulo and Obiena have officially qualified for the quadrennial meet, which merits them the full support of PSC.
The 24-year-old Obiena was the first Filipino to gain a slot in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics after he surpassed the qualifying standard last September.
World gymnastics champion Yulo followed when he placed 18th out of 160 athletes in the world to advance to the men’s individual all-around final of the 2019 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships last October in Stuttgart, Germany. – Rappler.com