THE Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) seeks the approval of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to allow Olympic hopefuls to resume their training for next year’s Tokyo Olympics.
POC President Abraham Tolentino, who is also the head of PhilCycling, said the country’s national Olympic body has coordinated with the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) in drafting recommended guidelines for the IATF-EID to approve.
“We have decided that our Olympic hopefuls must train the soonest,” Tolentino told The Manila Times in a phone interview after his virtual meeting with PSC officer-in-charge Commissioner Ramon Fernandez and other commissioners last Wednesday.
“We are still going to update [the] numbers. I think [there] are 60 [Olympians],” he said.
So far, only four Filipino athletes — boxers Eumir Felix Marcial and Irish Magno, pole vaulter EJ Obiena and gymnast Carlos Yulo — have qualified for the Summer Olympics from July 23 to Aug. 8, 2021.
Only Marcial and Magno are presently in the country while Obiena is in Italy and Yulo is in Japan. Rio Olympics silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz, who hasn’t won a ticket yet to the Tokyo Games, is training and preparing for the Olympic qualifying tournament in Malaysia.
Tolentino, who is also the eighth district representative of Cavite, said the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Malate, Manila and PhilSports Arena in Pasig City could be used as the national athletes’ training facilities, specifically the areas that were unused as emergency quarantine facilities by the government.
Potential venues are the taekwondo and boxing gyms at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex fencing hall as well as the multipurpose hall, the strength and conditioning building and the dormitory training hall at the Philsports Arena..
He added that Olympians could also be given the option of training locally or internationally with the support of their respective patrons and of national sports associations.
“‘Yung hahanaping venue ay ‘yung hindi ginamit nung quarantine. Ibig sabihin ba nun ‘yung golf doon pupunta? Siyempre, hindi. Sa [United] States ‘yun. At 3-on-3 [basketball], siyempre, hindi rin doo n sa Meralco [Ortigas] ‘yun. Pwede rin sila doon sa isang isla na hindi nagka–Covid,” explained Tolentino.
He also said the possible venues would undergo disinfection, renovation and inspection in order that Olympic hopefuls could train immediately if and when the IATF-EID approves the POC-PSC proposal.
PSC members initiated the online board meeting with Tolentino and POC Secretary General Ed Gastanes on Wednesday, agreeing to concentrate on the Olympic bid first as different parts of the country remain under various forms of quarantine.
For his part, Fernandez said the PSC started the talk to prioritize Olympics-bound athletes to ensure that the flag bearers continue to raise the standard all the way to the podium in Tokyo.
“Covid -19 notwithstanding, we must never lose sight of our goal to give our best for our first Olympic gold [medal],” said Fernandez, adding that it is up to the IATF-EID to support the golden goal.
“We can only recommend, but they have the final say,” he said.