Virus scare not slowing PH bets
Team Philippines was hailed as Athlete of the Year on Friday night during the San Miguel Corp.-Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Awards night, with some of its stars absent for a reason.
Even with the threat posed by the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19), the country’s top athletes are in the midst of either training or trying to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics slated in July after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said it was fully backing preparations for the Summer Games.
“[T]he IOC’s direction [is] that they’re still focused [on] the Olympics,” said Philippine Sports Commission Chair Butch Ramirez. “Of course, there are worries about the coronavirus, but we’re hoping these would diminish … going to July.”
“This morning, we had our third meeting with [Olympics chef de mission] Nonong Araneta, clarifying the trips of more than 30 athletes trying to qualify,” Ramirez added. “In our assessment, we might be able to send more or less 15 Filipino athletes [to Tokyo]. There are more than 10 already qualified. On Tuesday, Nonong will be making an announcement who are those athletes and who are very close to their qualification to the Olympics.”
World champion gymnast Carlos Yulo and pole vaulter EJ Obiena are already qualified for the Olympics. They were part of Team Philippines that blitzed the opposition in the 30th Southeast Asian Games last December, a feat that earned the delegation the highest honor doled out by the PSA at Manila Hotel.
Close to qualifying are weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, skateboarder Margielyn Didal and world champion female boxer Nesthy Petecio. Petecio and fellow SEA Games gold medalist Eumir Marcial are currently in Amman, Jordan, for an Olympic qualifying tournament.
“It’s tough but I am confident they will make it,” said boxing chief Ricky Vargas. —with a report from Cedelf P. Tupas