FILIPINO athletes vying in two major multi-sport continental competitions that were either canceled or postponed have no choice but to reboot, Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino said on Sunday.
The Association of National Olympic Committees, or ANOC, to which the POC is a member, canceled the World Beach Games set August 5 to 15 in Bali after the Indonesian government pulled the budget from 14-sport games only last July 4.
And on Saturday, the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) announced that the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMAG) set November 17 to 26 in Bangkok and Chonburi were moved to February 24 to March 8 next year.
The OCA, which held its elections also on Saturday in Bangkok with Kuwaiti Sheikh Talal Fahad Al-Sabah winning as president by only four votes (24-20), said the AIMAG was canceled also because of budget concerns and that Thailand is transitioning to a new government administration.
“These are beyond our control. I understand the sentiments of our athletes but this is something that we don’t have a choice about,” Tolentino said. “But as athletes, I trust them to make the adjustments.”
Many of the Filipino athletes who’re supposed to be in Bali or AIMAG, according to Tolentino, are also on the delegation to the Hangzhou Asian Games set September 23 to October 8.
“They can totally focus on the Asian Games, the biggest competition in Asia,” he said.
Two Filipino surfers—Jay-R Esquivel and Aping Agudo—have so far made the grade for the second edition of the World Beach Games.
They gained qualification via the world championships in El Salvador last month.
“We’ve been working so hard in the past few weeks [in San Jose, La Union] and then we found out that the event was canceled,” Esquivel said. “We’re all sad and disappointed but there’s nothing we can do.”
The ANOC has yet to announce a new host and dates for the World Beach Games, the second global sports event after the FIFA Under-20 World Cup that Indonesia dropped at the 11th hour. (ai/mnm)