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PH athletes good to go as SEA Games near

By: - Reporter / @junavINQ
/ 04:43 PM April 05, 2022
SEA Games Philippines

Athletes and officials from the Philippines march during the opening ceremony of the SEA Games (Southeast Asian Games) at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan province, north of Manila on November 30, 2019. (Photo by Ted ALJIBE / AFP)

MANILA, Philippines-Except for ironing out the kinks of their flight details, Filipino athletes are good to go in the last few weeks approaching the 31st Southeast Asian Games.

Commissioner Ramon Fernandez of the Philippine Sports Commission announced on Tuesday that almost all bases have been covered as far as the preparedness of Team Philippines for the Hanoi, Vietnam meet is concerned.

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“All the other aspects have been taken care of except for the booking (of flights),” said Fernandez, the designated chef de mission of the country to the Games, during the online Philippine Sportswriters Association forum.

Despite the ongoing pandemic, Fernandez said the majority of the 646 athletes from 39 sports have trained for the past several months that kicked off in a bubble environment before everything gradually loosened up to deliver their full potential for the May 12-23 sports fest.

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The PSC will book the 987-strong Philippine delegation, including 296 team officials and 45 national Olympic committee delegates, in flights scheduled by Philippine Airlines and Singapore Airlines with the first batch leaving for Hanoi on May 1.

As CDM, Fernandez will lead the initial wave of departures with his deputy CDMs Carl Sambrano of skateboarding and muay’s Pearl Managuelod to attend several meetings set by the organizing committee prior to the opening ceremony. He added the biggest wave of athletes and officials will fly on May 10.

“Our athletes have prepared properly despite the restrictions in the past. I’m relying on the podium finishers of (the) 2019 (SEA Games) to deliver,” said Fernandez as the Philippines seeks to retain the overall title it won in the previous Manila staging of the Games.

Team Philippines captured the overall title on the strength of 149 gold medals, 117 silvers and 121 bronzes, but a large chunk of these medalists won’t be around in Vietnam, which is putting a unique set of health and safety protocols, including the athletes’ non-presentation of vaccination certificates.

“I’m keeping my fingers crossed that those who will play in Hanoi will retain their gold medals while those silver and bronze performers will improve their outputs,” said Fernandez.

“We’re not the only ones affected (by the pandemic), other countries have to deal with it, too,” added Fernandez, the moving force behind the Ramon S. Fernandez Sports and Youth Development Foundation and Atletang Pilipino.

Fernandez will confer with Philippine Olympic Committee president Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino on the schedule of the sendoff for Team Philippines.

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Athletes from football, kickboxing, diving, chess, handball, pencak silat, rowing and kurash are expected to settle in Hanoi prior to the opening ceremony on May 12 with the football draw scheduled Tuesday.

“Our athletes have really persevered to reach this level. Always think that the entire country is supporting and cheering for you. Don’t be pressured, just try your best and believe in yourselves,” said Fernandez.

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