FORMER Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President and one time Commissioner of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Celso Dayrit passed away Wednesday night due to health reasons.
He was 69.
Dayrit served as head of the country’s Olympic governing body from 1999 to 2004 and was commissioner of the sports government agency under the time of President Fidel Ramos.
His family however, has long been associated with the sport of fencing as his father Don Francisco ‘Paco’ Dayrit Sr. was considered the ‘Father of Philippine Fencing’ and founded in the 1930s the Philippine Amateur Fencers Association which is now known as the Philippine Fencing Association.
Celso Dayrit himself became head of the federation from 1997 to 2008.
He would later take his act of propagating fencing within Asia as he became President of the Fencing Confederation of Asia since 2005 until the time of his death.
"Celso Dayrit is a big loss to sports world wide, being a former president of the Philippine Olympic Committee, including the presidency of the Philippine and Asian fencing federations," said Philippine Journalists Inc. Editor In-Chief Augusto 'Gus' Villanueva, who was media liason officer of the POC during the time when Dayrit was at the helm of the local Olympic body.
"Let's pray for the eternal repose of his soul. Dayrit led POC with the noblest principles and was hardworking. He gave prestige to the Olympic body."
Both the POC and PSC likewise remembered the legacy Dayrit left in them.
"Philippine sports lost a wise man today. He is one of my very first friends in sports and I have always admired his deep understanding of Olympism and sports dynamics in the country. He will be truly missed," said PSC Chairman William 'Butch' Ramirez.
POC President Abraham 'Bambol' Tolentino referred to Dayrit as 'one of my mentors.'
"Before his confinement, he gave me one message that I will publish soon," said Tolentino.
"He was big help to me in foreign relations especially in the Southeast Asian Games Federation. He always gave me advices. I will surely miss him."
Dayrit’s extensive work not only in fencing but also in the entire sports community had been recognized by no less than the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which made him the only Filipino accredited International course Director of the Olympic Solidarity Itinerant Administration School for sports leaders.
He was awarded in 2007 by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), and was given the Olympic Merit Award in 2006 by the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) which was personally handed out by former IOC President Jacques Rogge.
Dayrit is also an Honorary Member of the Federation Internationale D’Escrime and representative of the Veteran’s Council.
He likewise founded the Philippine Olympic Academy and the Philippine Olympians Association.
“I am filled with immense sadness at Cito Dayrit’s passing,” said former POC President and Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) head Ricky Vargas.
“He was a friend and valued adviser and I relied on his professionalism, vast knowledge and experience, and honest point of view,” he added. “Philippine and international sports just suffered a devastating loss.”