Incentives amounting to millions ‘should fuel athletes’ drive’
JAKARTA—The 18th Asian Games came to a close with Filipino women winning four gold medals and becoming multimillionaires in the process.
Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Ricky Vargas wants the bonanza to remain or be increased.
Yuka Saso, a 17-year-old golfer, ended the Games as the richest athlete from among the 272-strong Philippine contingent, bagging a total of P8 million—P6 million for the individual gold medal and another P2 million as her share for the team championship—while weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz and skateboarder Margielyn Didal pocketed P6 million each.
Golfers Lois Kaye Go and Bianca Pagdanganan are to receive P2 million each as part of the golf team’s purse.
The POC and the Philippine Sports Commission will each give P2 million, Siklab Atleta Pilipinas Sports Foundation of Presidential Adviser on Sports Dennis Uy another P1 million and Philippine Ambassador to Indonesia Lee Hiong Wee pledged another P1 million for the gold medalists.
The law also mandates the government, through the PSC, to give P1 million to silver medalists and P400,000 to bronze achievers.
The POC added P500,000 and P300,000 while the Siklab Foundation pledged P500,000 and P250,000.
Vargas admits, however, that the windfall may not be the same in the 2022 Asian Games, slated in Hangzhou in Zhejiang, China.
“Mahihirapan tayo (We’ll have a hard time), because these are pledges from the private sector. It’s not permanent,” Vargas told the Inquirer.
Vargas also feels that the P6-million reward could work both ways: Either it pushes the athletes to strive for more or impede their development as they are already financially stable.
“I hope not,” Vargas said when asked if the cash incentives could lessen the drive of an athlete.
“That’s why we feel that the POC should teach them, give them financial advice to use their money. To improve themselves further, save for their future, help their families.”
“Like [in the case of] Margie (Didal), this is her way out of poverty,” Vargas said.
Vargas, who took over from long-time head Peping Cojuangco less than a year ago, wants to channel the support from the private sector in a different way.
“They (athletes) need the support while training, not after,” Vargas said as he appealed to benefactors to support sports with gold medal potentials.
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