By Rey C. Lachica
For the region’s para athletes – those with various physical disabilities – 2020 could be considered as their saddest year.
That’s because the 10th ASEAN Para Games – already delayed twice – is no longer feasible to stage although it is still five months away from its schedule as funding is now of great concern for the Philippine Sports Commission due to coronavirus crisis.
Philippine Paralympic Committee President Michael Barredo bared this Thursday – a day after the PSC announced that all sporting activities for the year will be postponed as it intends to focus its remaining resources to a battle the country needs to conquer at all costs.
“The hosting of the APG by the Philippines is currently not feasible without the government support,” said Barredo in a statement.
As things stand, government’s budget for competitions – here and abroad – is likely to be channeled in its effort to flatten the curve of the coronavirus that has frozen all major sporting events in the world.
While they are disheartened, Barredo said the health and safety of everybody is their primary concern.
“We understand that this is a global concern and this is a very difficult decision to do. At this moment, sports must take a back seat to address a greater issue,” added Barredo.
With no other course to salvage the event, Barredo said they will inform the ASEAN Para Sports Federation (APSF) on the country’s present situation so that its Board of Governors may decide on the fate of the APG.
Though saddened by the turn of events, Barredo said they will continue to develop Para Sports and further the Paralympic Movement for the sake of athletes with disabilities who labored for months in order to experience the thrill and joy of winning in a regional meet.
“Let us not lose sight of our goals; let us keep the faith and plow forward,” said Barredo.
The biennial event was initially penciled last January – a month after the country’s successful staging of the SEA Games that saw the Filipino athletes emerge as overall champions.
But because of financial and logistical constraints, the Para Games was rescheduled to March, then pushed back to October over coronavirus concerns.
Without the financial backing from the government, the biennial event is most likely be scrapped unless another country will host the event for the sake of para athletes.