Lawmaker calls for continuous, sustainable support for athletes

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 11) – As a number of Filipino athletes prepare for the Tokyo Olympics in a few weeks, a lawmaker calls for more support to the sports program beyond what the government provides.

"Not enough considering andami naman nating mga sports na kailangan suportahan…matagal na pong panawagan ng ating mga athletes na sana bigyan ng enough na pondo, hindi lang kapag may mananalo at magco-compete ng international," Quezon 4th District Rep. Helen Tan said when asked about the government's support for athletes.

[Translation: Not enough considering we have so many sports activities that need support. For the longest time, our athletes have been calling for enough funding, not just when they win and compete internationally.]

Tan told CNN Philippines' The Exchange that assistance for their training must be continuous and sustainable.

In another interview, a sports official detailed the assistance given to athletes.

"Since 2019, when our athletes really got into the campaign of getting into the Olympics, the PSC has allocated and funded around ₱100 million. This includes their travel, their accommodation; they bring in masseurs, nutritionists, physical therapists," said Philippine Sports Commission chief of staff Marc Velasco.

"If you compare to other countries, this definitely is not sufficient. But what we are looking at is how these national sports associations plan their trip or their campaign. So we base our support, our funding on those requests forwarded to us," he said.

Velasco said the commission provides funding for over 50 NSAs.

He said it is a challenge to finance the training of athletes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Last year, a huge chunk of our budget was taken out and put into the COVID-19 fund. But the legislators before the budget session really felt the need to put budget on the training of the athletes," he said.

Velasco said government set aside ₱250 million for the Olympics campaign of the ten Filipino athletes who will compete in Tokyo, Japan in July.

For her part, Tan vowed to call for more funding for national players.

"Ngayong budget season po, I'll be one of those advocates na uupo during the budget hearing po ng Philippine Sports Commission at sasamahan sila para itaas pa ang pondo na kinakailangan ng ating athletes," said the lawmaker.

[Translation: This budget season, I'll be one of those advocates that will sit during the budget hearing of the Philippine Sports Commission and be on their side in calling for additional funding that our athletes need.]