Despite equipment fiasco, athletes raring for action
Philippine athletes must be chomping at the bit to perform in the Southeast Asian Games despite the scandalously slow pace of the bidding and purchasing of their competition equipment.
With seven weeks to go before the opening of the biennial meet of 11 nations, it was reported that only 11 of the 57 national sports associations (NSAs) whose sports are included in the 30th edition of the subcontinental competition have received or are awaiting delivery of their apparatus.
The P441-million financial assistance (FA) submitted by the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (Phisgoc) for the purchase of equipment by the NSAs earned approval only recently from the board of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), reported Commissioner Charles Maxey.
A Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) board member told me the FA has not reached the country’s Olympic agency.
When the money is received, it is only then that individual NSAs—save for the early birds that acted long before a three-way agreement was forged among the Games organizers in mid-August—can purchase equipment from one of their three bidders chosen by the PSC.
An update on the FA is likely to be discussed at the POC board meeting on Friday.
The meticulous process was the offshoot of the tripartite pact among the Phisgoc, PSC and POC for the hosting and funding of the Games.
Although installing itself to be on top of things and not the POC, the SEA Games franchisee, Phisgoc, funded mainly by private sponsors, has no personality with the Commission on Audit. Only transactions by the POC and the PSC are subject to review after the Games.
Delays notwithstanding, three NSAs with potential for gold medal juggernauts in the multisports showcase appear to be raring to plunge into action in 23 cities across the country on Nov. 30-Dec. 11 to help Team Philippines top the overall standings.
Weightlifting chief Monico Puentevella expects a full slate of five men and five women, led by Rio Olympics silver medalist and 2019 world championship bronze medalist Hidilyn Diaz, to harvest four to five golds from Dec. 1 to 4 at Rizal Memorial Coliseum.
Billiards president Robert Mananquil said the cue masters, tipped to win four golds or even sweep the six at stake in pool, are using old tables from the 2005 SEA Games for practice. They will have to familiarize themselves with the new ones before the billiards fest at Manila Hotel Tent from Dec. 3 to 11.
Meantime, athletics honcho Philip Ella Juico said his NSA, led by pole vaulter EJ Obiena, the country’s first qualifier to the Tokyo Olympics, “expects to do well” at New Clark City from Dec. 6 to 11.
With more entries seeing action this time around, expect athletics to increase its five-gold haul in Kuala Lumpur two years ago when it sent 30 athletes.
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