By Nick Giongco
The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) is pulling out all the stops in a bid to send a sizable contingent to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, chairman Butch Ramirez said.
Ramirez said a big number of competitors during the 32nd edition of the quadrennial event from July 24 to August 9 should pique the interest of President Rodrigo Duterte.
“If there’s just a small number of Olympic qualifiers, he might not show interest but if he sees that we will be sending a lot, I am sure he will attend,” said Ramirez, whose office is readying a big amount to finance the qualifying events of about 50 athletes from 17 sports.
Last Wednesday, Tokyo 2020 chief of mission Nonong Araneta met with national sports association leaders who briefed him about their respective NSAs’ Olympic buidup.
But Araneta was reminded by the NSAs that 38 out of the 50 names have solid chances of booking Olympic tickets.
Ramirez said Malacanang has earmarked P100 million while Pagcor is also lending a helping hand in the quest to beef up the PH delegation.
So far, there are only two qualifiers in world champion gymnast Carlos Yulo and Italy-based pole vaulter EJ Obiena.
In the coming months, Filipino athletes will be competing abroad in search of Olympic berths. Athletics has high hopes and is eyeing to qualify four while boxing, the most productive Olympic medal producer in history for the country, is targeting 5-6 qualifiers although 11 will vie for slots.
The last time in Rio 2016, there were only 13 athletes in eight sports.
The biggest contingent competed in 1972 in Munich with 53 in 11 sports, including a 12-man basketball squad, the last time a Philippine team saw action in the Olympics.
Ramirez said those who will make the Olympic grade will be sent to Japan early so they can acclimatize to the local conditions.
“We will be spending for their training and stints abroad to help them qualify,” added Ramirez, whom incidentally, was the CDM during the 2008 edition in Beijing.