PSC seeks private sector help for PH Olympians after pandemic depletes funds
The government is hoping private corporations can pull the country’s sporting program out of a financial hole created by the coronavirus pandemic.
Commissioner Ramon Fernandez of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) is looking to the private sector to help bankroll the needs of the four Tokyo Olympics-bound Filipino athletes.
“Our athletes are now switching to a higher gear in their training,’’ Fernandez said, referring to pole vaulter EJ Obiena, gymnast Carlos Edriel Yulo and boxers Eumir Felix Marcial and Irish Magno.
“If government funding remains a huge obstacle in the second half of the year, we have to knock on the doors of the private sector,’’ added the four-time PBA most valuable player and the league’s all-time scoring leader.
The PSC has been funding the training and the needs of the four athletes through the agency’s national sports development fund (NSDF).
But the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., which pours 5 percent of its monthly earnings to the NSDF, wasn’t able to shell out its regular remittances lately after casino operations across the country got shut down by COVID-19.
Further jeopardizing the country’s Olympic bid was Malacañang’s decision to redirect the P1.3-billion budget in the coffers of the PSC to the government’s more important concern: combating the deadly disease.
“As we all know, the PSC’s budget has been utilized for the fight against COVID-19,’’ Fernandez said. “The financial requirement of the athletes is a concern. We have to look for money.’’
Obiena is presently training in Italy and Yulo is in Japan, while Marcial and Magno are staying in Cavite province and Baguio City, respectively, since arriving from their Olympic qualifying tournaments in Jordan nearly four months ago.
Several Filipino athletes are also in the fringes of Olympic qualification, among them Rio Olympics silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz of weightlifting, skateboarding’s Margielyn Didal, boxer Nesthy Petecio and judoka Kiyomi Watanabe.
A total of 62 athletes from 18 sports are also seeking Olympic spots, including track and field’s Kristina Knott and Willie Morrison, karatekas Jamie Lim and Junna Tsukii and golfers Yuka Saso, Dottie Ardina and Miguel Tabuena, among others.