Dragon boat racing in 2016 Rio Olympics?
PHILIPPINE Olympic Committee president Jose “Peping” Cojuangco Jr. is backing the possible inclusion of dragon boat racing in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
With dragon boat now under canoe-kayak, an Olympic sport, Cojuangco said it may be included in the Olympic menu and enhance the country’s campaign for medals.
He noted that the Filipinos won two silver medals in the recent third Asian Beach Games in Haiyang, China, losing both golds to the Indonesians by only a fraction of a second.
Cojuangco praised coach Leo Escollante and the members of the team for a job well done despite inadequate financial support for the paddlers.
Another dragon boat squad composed of former national team members shone on the world stage last year, nailing five golds in the International Dragon Boat Federation World Championships in Tampa Bay, Florida.
But this team from the Philippine Dragon Boat Federation (PDBF), which enjoyed the support of Cobra Energy Drink, failed to get financial backing from the Philippine Sports Commission for refusing to join the Philippine Canoe-Kayak Federation (PCKF) as required by the International Canoe Federation, the International Olympic Committee (IOC)-recognized international sports federation.
Joanne Go, secretary general of the PCKF, has said that the PDBF truly deserves accolade for the performance of its team in the world meet but they must not be used to discredit the role of the PSC and the leadership of the POC.
“In response to a POC inquiry, the IOC urged the POC to place dragon boat federation under the supervision of the Philippine Canoe/Kayak Federation as this has been the consistent stand of the International Canoe Federation,” Go said. “For the public’s guidance, the sport of dragon boat is not yet an Olympic sport and hence, the International Dragon Boat Federation could not be admitted to the IOC.”
As respected Olympic oldtimer A. de O. Sales of the Amateur Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong said: “The POC problem (regarding dragon boat) should be settled internally as it is not good for any country, more so with such a long history in sport to invoke the intervention of an outside authority.”
On record, the IOC takes Olympic matters very seriously.
For instance, in 1981, Masaji Kiyokawa, the IOC representative to Japan, was sent to the Philippines by IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch to investigate government intervention in sports. After the late President Marcos abolished the Philippine Amateur Athletic Federation and replaced it with the Department of Youth and Sports Development in 1972, Marcos also created Project Gintong Alay and appointed his nephew Michael Keon as director in 1979.
Threatened by suspension, Keon was forced to leave for Lausanne to explain the local situation to Samaranch. The IOC chief eventually withdrew the threat, but he sternly told Marcos and Keon to respect the autonomy of the National Sports Associations and not to meddle in the affairs of the POC.