THE Philippines is putting its best foot forward as host of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) general assembly this Saturday at the Philippine International Convention Center.
“This will be an opportunity for us to show the world what kind of people we are,” said Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Jose Cojuangco on Tuesday.
The POC chief graced the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum at Shakey’s Malate together with Vinod Kumar Tiwari, director for International and National Olympic Relations of OCA, and POC vice president Jose Romasanta.
They discussed the coming OCA event which begins with the executive council meeting and the Asian Games Centennial celebrations on Friday at Sofitel Hotel.
The general assembly will be held on Saturday and will be followed by an OCA press conference at 5 p.m. at the PICC. The foreign delegates will fly out of the country the following day.
More than a hundred representatives from the 45 member countries of OCA are due to arrive, led by OCA president, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah of Kuwait.
“I hope we can show them the real Filipino hospitality,” said Cojuangco in the session presented by Shakey’s and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp.
The event was originally scheduled for last November in Boracay but had to be postponed after Typhoon Yolanda hit the country.
A couple of countries volunteered to take over the hosting but the OCA president said the Philippines, as host of the inaugural Far Eastern Games, now the Asian Games, in 1913, deserves the honor.
“The president of OCA was adamant that we had to have it here. I’m sure with the help of the POC we would have a fantastic ceremony and a successful general assembly,” said Tiwari.
Romasanta said it’s a very good opportunity for the Philippines to be seen up close by its Asian counterparts.
“It opens up the country and hopefully more people will get interested. We heard reports that after the SEA Games, investors have shown interest in Myanmar,” he said.
“This event will connect the Philippines to the rest of Asia. And this is very important for us in terms of recognition by the OCA,” Romasanta added.
“Let us not limit this event to just sports. This is for the entire country. This is a chance to display the resiliency of the Filipino people that despite what happened we are able to host this.
“And we should be thankful to the OCA through Sheikh Ahmad. He insisted that this be held in Manila. He promised to help us as long as we continue to host the event here,” said Cojuangco.
During the forum, the POC chief said he’s not giving up on the Philippines hosting the Asian Games someday. The last time the event was held in the country was in 1954.
“But we have to be decisive. It should be a national effort and not only the POC,” he said.