MANILA – The 31st Southeast Asian Games here will function as a springboard for Filipino athletes to prime up for the 2023 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China and the 2024 Paris Olympics.
“We are expecting that the SEA Games will be a great exposure for our athletes going to the Asian Games up to the Olympics just like what we did last time,’’ said Philippine Sports Commission Chairman William Ramirez in Manila where he has been closely monitoring the progress of Team Philippines in the Games.
No wonder the PSC never wavered in providing financial support for the entire 980-strong Philippine delegation in the ongoing 11-nation biennial where 641 Filipino athletes have been entered in 38 sports.
The Philippines captured its first gold medal in the Olympics last year in Tokyo through weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz after the government sports agency went all out in the funding of athletes during the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia and 2019 SEA Games that the country hosted.
“Our medalists who will go through qualification for the 2024 Olympics will get the preparation that they need here in the SEA Games, in the Asian Games and other high-level international games,’’ said Ramirez.
“By supporting the entire delegation, you are also giving the opportunity for non-medalists to become outstanding athletes in the future,’’ added Ramirez.
Ramirez has again expressed his gratitude to President Rodrigo Duterte and lawmakers from the House of Representatives and the Senate as well as the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation and the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office for providing the funding of Team Philippines in the SEA Games to the tune of PHP232 million.
“The President has been very supportive while our lawmakers helped us with the budgetary constraints in the SEA Games,’’ Ramirez said.
“We were also very fortunate that despite the pandemic, we were able to save from the NSDF (National Sports Development Fund) that came from PAGCOR and the PCSO. We gathered the available funds and instead of just sending 300 medalists, we were able to send all of them,’’ he added.
Aside from the 300 medalists in the 2019 SEA Games, the 38 national sports associations (NSAs) included non-medalists and young athletes from their respective developmental teams in the lineup.
This year’s Asian Games in Hangzhou, China have been postponed for next year due to the rising Covid-19 cases in the country, the Olympic Council of Asia recently announced. It could still serve Filipino athletes seeking to qualify for the next Olympics since the Asian Games will be held a year before the Paris Summer Games. (PR)