Fencing Confederation of Asia (FCA) president and former Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) chief Celso “Cito” Dayrit passed away Wednesday night, April 28, due to COVID-19.
He was 69.
Philippine Fencing Association (PFA) president Richard Gomez confirmed the passing of Dayrit, respected and loved not only among the fencing enthusiasts here and abroad but also in the sports community.
“I am deeply saddened to hear this. This is a great loss to our sports and painful to those who knew and loved him. Our prayers to the Dayrit family,” said Gomez, also the Mayor of Ormoc City.
“He was my mentor as a fencing athlete and president.”
Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman Butch Ramirez said he admired Dayrit for his passion for sports.
“Philippine sports lost a wise man today,” said Ramirez. “He is one of my very first friends in sports and I have always admired his deep understanding of Olympism and sports dynamics in the country.”
“He will be truly missed.”
Former POC president Ricky Vargas also considered Dayrit a true friend and adviser.
“I am filled with immense sadness at Cito Dayrit’s passing. He was a friend and valued adviser and I relied on his professionalism, vast knowledge and experience and honest point of view,” said Vargas, currently the head of the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP).
“Philippine and international sports just suffered a devastating loss. I will miss you immensely, my friend. May you rest in peace. My profound condolences to Cindy and Cito’s children and family. May the lord be with you all in your time of grief.”
Fencing’s national team head coach Amat Canlas said it was Dayrit who gave him confidence when he took over as lead mentor of Philippine Fencing, which has done well in the last few years.
He said Dayrit also pushed him and other Filipino fencing coaches to elevate the quality of the sport in the Philippines to be able to produce world-class fencers for various international competitions.
“He really encouraged me when I took over, and his vision is for us to have world caliber fencers,” said Canlas.
Dayrit served as commissioner of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) in 1993. The following year, he was elected president of the POC, which he served for three terms until 2004.
Dayrit was also involved in different activities under the Olympic solidarity movement of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the world governing body for National Olympic Committees.
Dayrit also received numerous awards, including the Olympic Merit in 2006 by the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC), and was honored in 2007 by the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA).
The FIE, or the International Fencing Federation, also bestowed him as honorary member and was inducted to the Hall of Fame as he served the federation’s board from 2004 to 2020.