TOKYO Olympics hopefuls have nothing to worry even during the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.
The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), the government sports agency tasked to supervise local sports, will see to it that the athletes’ welfare is on top of its priorities.
In fact, the PSC will make sure that the athletes’ preparations for the Olympics will continue even during the present health crisis affecting almost the whole world.
Ask PSC officer-in-charge Ramon Fernandez.
“As instructed by President Duterte, the PSC will continue to do its role to promote sports and ensure the welfare of the athletes,” said Fernandez during the first “Usapang Sports on Air” by the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) via Zoom yesterday.
“That means we will continue to support our athletes, especially those who have already qualified for the Tokyo Olympics,” said Fernandez, who was appointed as PSC officer-in-charge starting July 1.
Fernandez said the PSC, through national training director Marc Velasco, is closely monitoring the needs of the Filipino athletes who have already qualified for the Tokyo Olympics even though they are currently abroad.
The 66-year-old Fernandez said pole vault champion EJ Obiena, who is in Italy; gymnast Caloy Yulo, who is in Japan; and weightlifting champion Hidilyn Diaz, who is in Malaysia, continue to prepare for the Olympics “even on their own right now."
Three other athletes -- boxers Eumir Marcial and Irish Magno and skateboarder Margielyn Didal -- are also doing well on their training even during the lockdown.
Fernandez, who underwent swab testing at the Philsports Arena in Pasig upon his arrival in Manila from Cebu late Monday, said he will arrange a meeting with Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino and Tokyo Olympics chef de mission Nonong Araneta anytime soon.
“Kahit virtual meeting muna with Cong. Bambol and Nonong Araneta this Saturday,” added Fernandez during the two-hour zoom conference sponsored by the PSC and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).
“We have to meet with the POC and even a few NSAs so they can help us identify a few more athletes who have a good chance to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics,” said Fernandez.
“Basically, we just have to continue the program that we put in place for the past two to three months. Wala naman masyado babaguhin.”
The four-time PBA MVP from Maasin, Leyte said the PSC is open to the proposal of the POC to allow select athletes to resume training even during the quarantine period.
“That’s a good proposal.But right now we have to follow the directive of the IATF-EID (Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases) and Department of Health. Kailangan sumunod tayo para sa safety na din nating lahat,” added the Cebu-based Fernandez.
He also reiterated the assurance made by the PSC that all national athletes will continue to receive half of their monthly allowances until December.
“But by some miracle, magkaroon na ng vaccine laban sa virus at sumigla na muli ang ekonomiya natin, maibibigay na uli natin ng buo 'yun mga dapat sa atleta,” said Fernandez.
“Sa ngayon, we just have to survive and stay safe.”