Dragon boat in a quandary?
There’s absolutely no problem with the Philippine Dragon Boat Federation in receiving P1 million from members of Congress as a reward for its winning five gold medals and two silvers in last year’s 10th International Dragon Boat Championships in Tampa, Florida.
As a matter of fact, even before when PDBF members left for Florida and other international events in the past, business tycoon Lucio Tan’s Philippine Airlines and Cobra Energy Drink have already been providing the dragon boat team with monetary and other logistical support to keep the delegation battle-ready.
But PDBF technical director Nestor Ilagan still finds himself in a quandary mainly because the much-criticized Philippine Sports Commission had removed the dragon boat members from the PSC payroll, compelling Ilagan to seek financial assistance and other team needs from elsewhere.
Sans PSC and Philippine Olympic Committee support, the team has been barred from training near the docks of the Manila Yacht Club and now conducts its training sessions at the Manila Ocean Park, some two kilometers farther away.
For the record, the PDBF is not recognized by the POC—the ruling body for amateur sports. In turn, the local Olympic body has given its recognition to the Philippine Canoe-Kayak Federation (PCKF) to run the affairs of dragon boat in the country. As a result, the PDBF could not avail of financial help from the PSC and approval from the POC for its 10th International Dragon Boat Championships in Tampa, Florida.
Ergo, the Cobra Energy-backed dragon boat paddle-wielders that competed in the world championships went there not as the national delegation but only as club team.
For the record, too, I have made it clear in a previous column by stressing that while I rejoice with their triumph, I also caution the dragon boat team members not to bask in their newfound glory but instead submit themselves to the rules of the POC. Respect for the POC must be shown at all times.
Quoting former POC president and Olympic purist Col. Julian Malonso, ret., said, “The real objective of the Olympic Movement is to develop the youth spiritually, morally, mentally and physically. Winning medals is only secondary. But the press publishes the number of medals won and the winners of these championships, hence the public is more concerned about them.”
On the other hand, the Supreme Court has given sports officials the right to enforce the rules of the game, stressing that the rules must be strictly followed and it has officials duly elected and authorized to enforce the rules otherwise there will be anarchy and chaos. The High Tribunal’s decision “simplifies sports adjudication to a degree which the larger arena of life does not ordinarily mirror.”
Meanwhile, PCKF secretary-general Joanne Go said the Philippine Dragon Boat Federation team truly deserve accolades. “While we engage in a celebration over these medals, however, they must not be used to discredit the role of the government agency, the Philippine Sports Commission, in addressing sports concerns and the leadership of the Philippine Olympic Committee, the country’s highest governing body in sports.”
Go added, “In response to a Philippine Olympic Committee inquiry, the International Olympic Committee has urged the POC to place dragon boat federation under the supervision of the Philippine Canoe Kayak Federation as this has been the consistent stand of International Canoe Federation, the IOC-recognized International Sports Federation (ISF). And for the public’s guidance, the sport of dragon boat is not yet an Olympic sport and hence, the International Dragon Boat Federation could be admitted to the IOC.”
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