Nationals in military green-lighted to play on
Olympic silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz of weightlifting and Tokyo Games-bound boxer Eumir Felix Marcial got the blessing of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, along with their fellow national athlete-soldiers, to serve the country in sports while military continues battling the raging coronavirus pandemic.
Diaz, a three-time Olympian who is going for an unprecedented fourth appearance in Tokyo, is enlisted in the Philippine Air Force along with Marcial, and the duo forms part of the group that has received a go signal from the AFP to resume training and continue with their duties as national athletes.
Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) acting Executive Director Guillermo Iroy Jr. pointed out that priority would be given to Olympic qualifiers and athletes seeking to gain berths for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics in a renewal of a tripartite agreement forged by the PSC with the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) and AFP on Tuesday, granting the necessary detailed service for national athletes in the military.
The PSC sought for the continuation of the detailed service allowing these athletes to suit up for Team Philippines after the agreement expired in May.
“We are working with the POC in drawing up the list,” said Iroy, who added that a total of 78 national athletes and 52 coaches from 19 sports have been requested to be detailed to the PSC.
The chief of the AFP Special Service Unit, Col. Rocky Binag, POC secretary general Edwin Gastanes, PSC NSA (national sports association) Affairs head Annie Ruiz and Iroy are looking to finalize the agreement by mid-August.
“Eumir and Hidilyn are requesting to be detailed until 2021 along with the other athletes being considered by the AFP,” Ruiz said.
“Without the AFP’s approval, the rest will return to their mother units.”
All soldier-athletes have been recalled to be on active duty since the start of the COVID-19 crisis in March.
Seeking to secure the detailed service order are athletes from swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, volleyball, wrestling, boxing, baseball, rowing, sailing, sepak takraw, softball, soft tennis, weightlifting, cycling, obstacle sports, muay thai, judo and Philippine Sports Association of the Differently Abled athletes from athletics, badminton, table tennis and cycling.
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