By Nick Giongco
The country’s top sports officials get the lowdown on what would it take for the Philippines to send as many qualifiers to the Tokyo Olympics when they meet with national sports association heads Wednesday at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex.
Around 20-25 NSA leaders are attending the dialogue at the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) headquarters with chief of mission Nonong Araneta presiding over the affair that starts at 10 am, PSC national training director Marc Velasco said during Tuesday’s PSA Forum at the Amelie Hotel in Ermita, Manila.
“This will be a very crucial meeting,” said Velasco.
“We’d know the bulk of the Olympic program (of the NSAs during the meeting),” he added.
Araneta will be joined by PSC chairman Butch Ramirez and Philippine Olympic Committee president Bambol Tolentino, who are expected to play a vital role in the runup to the July 24 to Aug. 9 Olympics.
There will be 33 sports that will be played in Tokyo and 339 gold medals at stake but the Philippines won’t be sending athletes in all of these since there will be continental qualifiers taking place in the next few months.
Malacanang has assured the PSC that it has earmarked P100 million to support the national athletes’ bid to make the Olympic grade.
The PSC also has a separate budget for the program and it will be used to bolster the Olympic drive as the Philippines attempts anew to put an end to the century-old elusive gold medal hunt.
The last time in Rio, lifter Hidilyn Diaz brought home a silver medal, bringing the number of silver won by the Philippines to three to go with the two boxing bagged in 1964 in Tokyo and 1996 in Atlanta.
Apart from the three silver medals, seven bronzes also make up the Philippines’ paltry collection that came from boxing (3), athletics (2) and swimming (2).