SENATOR Christopher “Bong” Go on Saturday emphasized his and President Rodrigo Duterte’s untiring support for Filipino athletes competing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics despite their absence in the upcoming Opening Ceremonies.
“Hindi na po kami sumama, marami po tayong dapat unahin at masyado pong risky kung magta-travel po ang ating mahal na Pangulo sa ngayon. Importante po full support kami,” said Go.
“I’m sure si Pangulong Duterte, handa rin pong magbigay ng insentibo kung makakuha tayo ng medalya. Known naman po ang mga Pilipno na matatapang, magigiting at lumalaban. Let’s give the best, ang Pilipino lumalaban talaga ‘yan,” he added.
Earlier, Go successfully appealed to the government to include in the priority list for COVID-19 vaccination the Filipino athletes and other delegates who will be competing or participating in the upcoming Olympics.
The Opening Ceremony has been rescheduled to July 23, a year after it was initially set to take place in 2020. Athletes are starting to arrive for the Games, which will run until August 8.
The Olympics is expected to attract around 11,000 athletes from different countries. According to the International Olympic Committee, almost 85% of them have been inoculated against COVID-19.
Meanwhile, Go is optimistic that the country’s athletes will perform well and hopefully get its first gold medal in the edition of the Games this year.
“Ako, ineexpect ko na makakuha tayo ng ginto. Meron tayong ipapadalang 19 athletes,” Go noted.
“Sana po ay manalo. We wish them good luck at ako naman po ay tiwalang kakayanin nating manalo at makakuha ng ating inaasam na gold medal para sa ating bayan. Dito lang po kami full support po kami sa ating mga atleta,” he added.
An advocate of long-term sports development, Go has been pushing for measures to protect the welfare and promote the betterment of athletes towards the country’s sports renaissance.
As Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance and Chair of the Senate Committee on Sports, Go ensured that sufficient funding is included in the budget of the Philippine Sports Commission to support the preparations of athletes for the Olympics and other international competitions. Specifically, he pushed for an additional 100 million pesos to be included in the 2021 budget under the PSC for Olympic preparations.
Previously, he also assured his support for the planned construction of the Philippine Sports Training Center in Bataan. Signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in February 2019, Republic Act No. 11214 provides for the creation of the PSTC which seeks “to promote and develop sports in the country, to achieve excellence in international sports competitions, to ensure success in the country’s quest to achieve competitiveness in the Olympic Games and to promote international amity among nations.”
Not to be confused with the National Academy of Sports, Go said that both facilities are the government’s gifts to national athletes. President Duterte signed into law RA No. 11470 which establishes the National Academy of Sports in June last year. Go was one of the authors and sponsors of the measure.
He also praised Duterte for his approval of the timely release of the budget for the construction of the facilities and amenities of the NAS. The government released a total of P729 million to cover the construction costs, including civil works requirements; fixtures, furniture, and equipment; and consultancy services.
“Ngayon na meron nang National Academy of Sports, mabibigyan na ang mga kabataang atleta ng pagkakataon na mag-training at makapag-aral sa isang world-class na pasilidad at eskwelahan,” he added.
Go also urged promising young Filipino athletes to join the National Academy of Sports Annual Search for Competent, Exceptional, Notable and Talented Student-Athlete Scholars (NASCENT SAS) as the deadline of submission of applications had been extended from July 31.
(Senator Go witnessed the signing into law by President Duterte the creation of Philippine National Academy of Sports, Filed photo courtesy of Philippine Sports Commission).