THE Philippine Sports Commission vowed support to Tokyo-bound athletes and other Olympic hopefuls even as a huge part of its budget is redirected by government to the efforts to combat the coronavirus.
By virtue of Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, P596 million and P773 million were realigned by the Department of Budget and Management from the sports agency’s National Sports Development Fund and the fund from the General Appropriations Act, respectively to fund the country’s COVID-19 fight.
Boxers Eumir Felix Marcial and Irish Magno, pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena, and gymnast Carlos Edriel Yulo earned tickets to the Tokyo Games before the lockdown. Others are waiting for Olympic qualifying to resume following the postponement of the games to 2021, and PSC chairman William Ramirez says these athletes have the support of the government.
“We will not waiver in our quest to fulfill the country’s Olympic dream and we are very hopeful that more athletes will be able to qualify once the situation gets better,” said Ramirez.
Among those preparing to compete for slots to the 2021 Olympics are 2016 Rio Games silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz of weightlifting, four-time SEA Games champion Kiyomi Watanabe of judo, 2019 SEAG double-gold medal winner Margielyn Didal of skateboarding, multi-titled jin Pauline Lopez of taekwondo, and Junna Tsukii of karatedo.
“It’s a tough situation but we understand the priorities of the national government. We will do what we can to continue the support we give to our athletes especially those vying for an Olympic slot,” added Ramirez.
The budget cut has forced the sports agency to take belt-tightening measures in recent weeks, to be able to cover all commitments, but PSC continues to provide online sports psychology consultations, virtual training sessions, nutrition, physiology, and conditioning webinars to athletes and coaches through PSC’s Medical Scientific Athletic Services (MSAS) and the Philippine Sports Institute (PSI).