PSC, POC seek IATF approval to resume training of Olympic-bound athletes

Olympic-bound athletes boxer Eumir Felix Marcial, pole vaulter EJ Obiena, gymnast Carlos Yulo and boxer Irish Magno (Handout Photos)

The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) are seeking the approval of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) for the resumption of training of Olympic-bound athletes and a number of hopefuls.

The move came after the PSC Board met with POC president Bambol Tolentino and POC secretary-general Atty. Ed Gastanes in a video conference tackling the training plans for qualified athletes, as well as those seeking berths to the Tokyo Olympics reset in 2021.

“COVID-19 notwithstanding, we must never lose sight of our goal to give our best for our first Olympic gold,” said PSC OIC Mon Fernandez.

Two of the country’s four Olympic qualifiers are already training abroad -- gymnast Carlos Yulo in Japan and pole vaulter EJ Obiena in Italy. Both have been actively working out in facilities there.

But boxers Eumir Marcial and Irish Magno are left in the country following the lockdown and aren’t able to fully train due to quarantine restrictions in their sport.

Marcial was even seen growing vegetables in his social media account instead of spending more time preparing.

Contact sports like boxing are still not allowed for training at the moment.

Fernandez said, however, that they could only recommend as the IATF has the final say on how best to deal with the situation.

In their recommendation, the PSC identified facilities at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Manila and the Philsports Complex in Pasig City that are available for training.

The government sports agency is ready to disinfect these facilities inside the complex to ensure the safety of the athletes once approved by the IATF.

Both the PSC and the POC are also in the process of identifying athletes and sports that have high chances of qualifying to the Olympics to also be allowed to resume training.

Meanwhile, Fernandez hopes some private sector and local government units can lend their training facilities should the IATF approve the Olympians' training.

 The PSC will next meet with Tokyo Olympics chief of mission Nonong Araneta to discuss the POC’s Olympic projection. 

“The POC will know who has and where we have a high percentage of qualifying so we will consult them and move from there,” Fernandez said.