Dragonboat needs fair adjudicatorBy Manolo R. Iñigo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The sport of dragonboat racing is in the news again.
After a hiatus of a few weeks, the sport is back, this time with a lot of fireworks as two competing groups stage their own version of dragonboat races in the same weekend (April 26 to 28) at the same venue on Boracay Island.
The International Club Crew Challenge, organizers of last year’s World Dragonboat Championships in Tampa Bay, Florida, where the Filipino entries won five gold medals, and the 6th Boracay International Dragonboat Festival will be hosting the twin events on the island.
Still, Marcia Cristobal, president of the Philippine Dragon Boat Federation said they are going ahead with their races.
Cristobal’s group is not recognized by the Philippine Olympic Committee and does not enjoy financial assistance from the Philippine Sports Commission, the government agency tasked with funding sports events as well as the training and participation of athletes in overseas competitions.
“The PDBF went there (to Florida) as a club and not as the official national team,” explained Joanne Go, secretary general of the POC-recognized Philippine Canoe-Kayak Federation (PCKF), the controlling body for dragonboat racing in the country.
It is mainly because of this reason that Malay (Aklan) Mayor John Yap refused to issue a permit for the PDBF to stage the International Club Crew Challenge in Boracay.
Yap reportedly sent a letter to PDBF president Cristobal, noting the conflict of interest.
“Another Dragonboat Regatta, sanctioned by the Philippine Sports Commission, which is similar to your proposed regatta, has (been) planned and coordinated on the same dates you proposed,” Yap explained.
The PDBF had already paid a fee of P40,000 to hold the weekend races. The event will be the basis for the selection of members of the national team to the World Championships in South Korea this year.
In a letter, Go said: “True, the PDBF paddlers did not receive financial assistance from the POC and PSC but the official Philippine national team paddlers continue to receive their stipends from government. As for the PDBF paddlers, they were bankrolled by companies owned by business tycoon Lucio Tan.
“Moreover, since the PDBF paddlers refused to join the PCKF, the POC could not sanction the trip to Florida or extend any financial support as recognition of the association had already been withheld in a resolution issued months before the engagement.”
In conclusion, Go said: “Nothing smells fishy actually, only that certain issues had not been elucidated and an array of regrettable statements had been made in the heat of the argument.”
From where we sit, all this “misunderstanding” will disappear if athletes and bona fide sports officials are given the opportunity to talk and sort out their differences.
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