BY NICK GIONGCO
The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) will tap the help of private sector for the national athletes who will compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
POC President Bambol Tolentino said on Friday that aside from government assistance, he will move heaven and earth to assure that those bound for the Games scheduled July 24-Aug. 9 “would have nothing to worry about.”
“They will not only get assistance from the government but from private sector as well,” said Tolentino exactly six months before the opening of the quadrennial event.
“We are going to be behind them every step of the way,” added Tolentino, who appointed football chief Nonong Araneta as chief of mission to Tokyo.
Malacanang has promised P100 million to help Filipino athletes earn berths to Tokyo while Pagcor has also agreed to go the extra mile and chip in to efforts to send as many bets as possible.
World champion gymnast Carlos Yulo and pole vaulter EJ Obiena have already secured slots while about 50 others in 16 sports are going to attempt to join them by way of qualifying events in the next few months.
The target is for the Philippines to send 20 or more athletes, a number that is clearly superior to the 13 who flew to Rio in 2016.
In the thick of making the Olympic grade are 2016 Olympics silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz of weightlifting, skateboarder Margie Didal, an 11-man boxing team, 3×3 basketball and standouts from judo, athletics, cycling, taekwondo, karate and golf.
Last Wednesday, Araneta met with national sports association leaders and he was told that of the 50 handpicked to vie for Olympic slots until June, 38 of them have solid chances of meeting the Olympic standard.
In the country’s 100 years of participation in the Olympics, the Philippines has yet to win a gold medal with a meager medal haul of three silver and seven bronze.