POC to ensure EJ Obiena's participation in 2022 SEA Games, Asian Games | Inquirer Sports

POC to ensure EJ Obiena’s participation in 2022 SEA Games, Asian Games

By: - Reporter / @MarkGiongcoINQ
/ 05:41 PM January 25, 2022
EJ Obiena pole vault sea games

Pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena reiterates his desire to compete for the Philippines. —MARIANNE BERMUDEZ.

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) will make sure EJ Obiena competes in the Southeast Asian Games and Asian Games this year despite the pole vault ace’s feud with the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (Patafa).

POC president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino said the necessary steps will be taken to assure Obiena’s participation on both events.

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“There is a provision in the IOC charter specifically bylaws rule 27 and 28 and it says that the NOC (national Olympic committee) is the sole authority who submits the delegation,” Tolentino said during the PSA Forum on Tuesday.

According to Rule 27 on the Olympic charter, “the NOCs have the exclusive authority for the representation of their respective countries at the Olympic Games and at the regional, continental or world multi-sports competitions patronized by the IOC.”

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In the event that Patafa–who earlier moved to drop the pole vaulter from the national team–refuses to endorse Obiena to the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), Tolentino said the POC is willing to provide assistance through the private sector.

Obiena is a cinch to defend his pole vault title in the SEA Games and a heavy favorite to win the gold in the Asian Games.

The 26-year-old Obiena set the Asian pole vault record last year at 5.93 meters. He was also the lone Asian finalist at the Tokyo Olympics where he finished 11th.

Tolentino said Obiena is currently part of a group of 80 athletes who will be funded privately. Those athletes are not included in the initial list of 584 delegates bound for the SEA Games in Hanoi.

“The question here for the NSA is if that athlete, world-class athlete has a big potential will you not endorse him? Just because of this brouhaha? You will deprive the country of whatever medal? Even PSC, you will not endorse, you will not fund?” said Tolentino, who had earlier vowed to back Obiena amid his rift with Patafa.

“If the PSC won’t fund him, who will fund him? Of course, the private will fund him.”

Obiena, ranked as the fifth-best pole vaulter in the world, is set to begin his campaign on January 28 in Germany.

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