COMMITTEE on Youth and Sports Development congressmen promised their support when the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) lobbied for Tokyo 2021 budget support from the House of Representatives during the committee regular meeting held Wednesday.
In the committee meeting led by Committee Head Representative Eric Martinez, PSC Chairman William Ramirez bared the sports agency’s need for its slashed funds to continue supporting the training and competitions of Tokyo Olympic Games qualifiers and hopefuls vying for slots.
“We were one of those government offices who also contributed to the Bayanihan Act. The DBM (Department of Budget and Management) deducted from us. Para sa amin malaking bagay ‘yun kasi kasama doon ‘yung Olympic budget namin. Hanggang ngayon po bakante ‘yan. It’s an opportunity for us to ask, we need your help,” expressed Ramirez.
After presenting the Olympic budget request of more than P182 Million for Tokyo-bound athletes and hopefuls made by Chef de Mission (CDM) Mariano Araneta to the PSC, the sports agency chief highlighted the push Congress can give to the country’s Olympic dream.
“Rep. Bambol Tolentino has initially supported yung P 180 Million na allowances ng atleta which was approved by the bicam, and to be approved by the President. Thank you sa lahat ng congressman na sumuporta. Pero ‘yung Olympic budget namin, we are hoping again for your support,” said Ramirez.
Ramirez informed the body that “the Philippine Sports Commission is operating on the savings coming from PAGCOR (Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation)” and that “when we talk about the elite athletes of the national team, the budget being used is the NSDF (National Sports Development Fund)” prompting PSC to lessen grassroots sports program related to local government units.
“Dito kami naka-focus sa elite athletes. We still have some budget just enough for us to reach December,” admitted Ramirez in his response to Committee Vice-Chair Jericho Nograles’ inquiry on the PSC’s funds.
The government’s sports arm’s budget was cut P 596 Million from the National Sports Development Fund and another P 773 Million from the General Appropriations Act by the DBM, to aid in the COVID-19 national health crisis.
“Rest assured that we will do our part to get the funding for this Olympics. All hands are in. Dapat lahat tayo dito. This is the best chance we have,” responded House Youth and Sports Development Head Rep. Martinez adding that they would have to discuss this with the DBM and schedule it the soonest time possible because the athletes “need that budget for the Olympics.”
In the same meeting, CDM Araneta updated on the collaborative effort with the PSC to bring top bets and national athletes targeting Tokyo berths back into training.
“Right now 21 athletes are training abroad, and 65 athletes training here in the Philippines so that’s a total of 86 athletes and four have already qualified so we’re saying that there are still 82 athletes that are training to qualify for the Olympics. At the moment, for those who are in the Philippines we are just waiting for PSC to submit to IATF the training protocols that include the venues and the health protocols that the sports associations have submitted,” shared Araneta.
PSC National Training Director Marc Velasco reported that the PSC is already preparing health protocols and identifying a minimum of six multipurpose venues for this planned training resumption. Velasco shared that Bases Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) President Vince Dizon also offered to cover the RT-PCR testing of the athletes.
“We are working with POC (Philippine Olympic Committee) and the NSAs (National Sports Associations) which would endorse athletes that are going to qualify and will be the only ones allowed to enter the Philsports. We would also have support staff, who will also undergo safety protocols like the testing, to assist. They will be inside the Philsports where we also have adequate medical and health facilities,” said Velasco. (PR)