PHILIPPINE Olympic Committee (POC) president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino sought an additional P510 million budget for elite sports for 2021 as the country got a clear shot at finally winning not only its first Olympic gold medal but potentially multiple, at the rescheduled Tokyo Games.
“Tokyo could be that host city where the country could win not one, not two, but probably more Olympic gold medals in 2021. And along this line, the athletes need all the support in their bid to accomplish what has never been achieved before,” Tolentino said after his interpellation on the Philippine Sports Commission’s (PSC) proposed budget for 2021.
The PSC proposed for a traditional Department of Budget Management-endorsed P207 million 2021 budget that is intended for the agency’s operations and salaries and wages of personnel.
On top of that, an additional P510 million was proposed as additional funding primarily intended for Filipino athletes training and preparation for the Tokyo Olympics itself and for the Games qualifiers.
“The PSC needs the full support of Congress—the House and Senate—because 2021 is the year when the Olympic gold medal beckons,” Tolentino said. “I am confident that elusive gold medal will be achieved in Tokyo.”
The PSC, according to chairman William Ramirez, said that of the P510 million additional budget, P150 million will be for the Tokyo Olympics campaign, while P100 million will be for the preparation and participation in the Southeast Asian Games where the country will be defending the overall championship when Vietnam hosts the biennial games from November 21 to December 2.
“The SEA Games are on top of the priorities as we defend the overall title which we achieved when we hosted the event in 2021,” Tolentino said.
The remaining P250 million will be allocated for the Asian Beach Games, Asian Indoor Martial Arts Games, Asian Youth Games, Asian Youth Para Games, SEA Para Games, Tokyo Paralympics and Asean Youth Games.
Tolentino is pinning high hopes on world champion gymnast Carlos Yulo and recently turned pro boxer Eumir Felix Marcial as the brightest chances for the gold medal, along with fast-progressing pole vaulter Earnest John “EJ” Obiena and woman boxer Irish Magno.
Waiting in the wings are women’s world boxing champion Nesthy Petecio and Rio 2016 weightlifting silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz, whose respective Tokyo qualifiers were postponed for early 2021 by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mariano “Nonong” Araneta, the Philippine chef de mission to Tokyo pegged his expectations to at least 18 Filipinos qualifying for the Games set from July 23 to August 8 next year.