EJ Obiena

POC to seek private funding for embattled Obiena

Delfin Dioquino
POC to seek private funding for embattled Obiena

ELITE ATHLETE. EJ Obiena currently sits at No. 5 in the world rankings.

Benoit Tessier/Reuters

Pole vault star EJ Obiena, who has not received funding since August 2021, is in danger of getting expelled from the national team by PATAFA

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino said the organization will help embattled pole vaulter EJ Obiena look for private funding if the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) pushes through with his expulsion.

The PATAFA initially recommended the immediate expulsion of the Olympian over falsified liquidation documents regarding payments to his Ukrainian coach Vitaly Petrov but decided to give Obiena two weeks to air his side.

“It is hard to create a world-class athlete,” Tolentino told the Power and Play with Noli Eala program of Radyo Singko in a mix of Filipino and English. “It might take another 15 to 20 years before you create another Obiena. It is a shame to lose someone like him.”

“With that, the only question is who will bankroll him from Day 1 that he loses his allowances up to his training and his international competitions. That is where the POC comes in. Definitely, we’ll look for private funding for that.”

Obiena said he has not received funding since August last year, right after he placed 11th in the Tokyo Olympics as the only Asian to reach the finals.

But even without funding, the 26-year-old managed to snag a silver medal in the Paris Diamond League in August and set a new Asian record after claiming gold in the Golden Roof Challenge in Austria in September.

Obiena currently sits at No. 5 in the world rankings.

Tolentino said that even if Obiena does not get recognized by PATAFA, he will continue to represent the Philippines if he wishes to do so, citing the International Olympic Committee (IOC) charter.

Rule 27 of the charter states that national Olympic committees “have the exclusive authority for the representation of their respective countries at the Olympic Games and at the regional, continental, or world multi-sports competitions patronized by the IOC.”

“We send the list of delegates. Yes, it is being proposed by the [national sports association], but we have the last say,” Tolentino said.” – Rappler.com

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.