Tokyo bets, aspirants return to training soon

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    FOOTBALL chief Mariano Araneta Jr., the national team chief of mission for the Tokyo Olympic Games, yesterday announced that locally-based Olympic qualifiers and aspirants might be able to resume actual training by the middle of the month at the Philsports Complex in Pasig City.

    “I talked to Philippine Sports Commission national training director Marc Velasco last Saturday and he said the PSC aims to convert the ULTRA (the former name of the Philsports Complex) into a training venue for our Olympic qualifiers and hopefuls,” Araneta said during the PSA forum online session.

    “Hopefully, they (national athletes) can resume training by Sept. 15,” added the Philippine Football Federation president in the forum backed by PAGCOR, San Miguel, Smart, Go for Gold, Milo, Brasca Restaurant and Amelie Hotel.

    Araneta said he had a meeting with the representatives of National Sports Associations concerned last month where they submitted their respective health protocols and guidelines for the resumption of actual training.

    “Ang sabi ni Marc they hope to finish reviewing the guidelines by this week,” he said.

    Philippine Olympic Committee president Rep. Bambol Tolentino, who has been batting for the resumption of training of national athletes since June, said Olympic qualifiers and hopefuls in the combat sports of taekwondo, boxing, karatedo and fencing should be given priority.

    Araneta said among the venues within the PSC-administered complex being eyed as a training venue is the Philsports Arena, which has been converted into a COVID-19 quarantine facility by the national government.

    “I believe this area will be cleared by the PSC by the time that our national athletes begin training there because we should maximize the facilities at ULTRA,” he said.

    The national squad point man also confirmed that he and PSC Chairman Butch Ramirez met with members of the House Youth and Sports Development Committee led by Valenzuela Rep. Eric Martinez in seeking additional funding for the country’s Olympic build-up.

    “The PSC submitted a request of P135 million for the Olympic preparations that hopefully will be included in the Bayanihan To Heal as One Act 2,” he said, adding the committee members were keen on adding financial support for the country’s Olympic campaign.

    Araneta said there are still about over 80 athletes vying to qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games, based on the figures that he had, with  “64 to 65 athletes based here while 22 of them are overseas.”

    Four athletes – pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena, gymnast Carlos Edriel Yulo and boxers Eumir Felix Marcial and Irish Magno – have so far qualified for the quadrennial games that has been reset to next year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.