Looking beyond 2014

COMMONSENSE - Marichu A. Villanueva1 - The Philippine Star

Retired from politics for now, former Parañaque congressman Roilo Golez is keeping himself busy toying with great ideas. In fact, Golez shares his thoughts even at his Facebook (FB) account. In one of his FB posts last week, Golez made an earthshaking suggestion.

“For next year 2014, let us all dream big, really big,” Golez posted in his FB. “I propose we prepare to bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics (XXXIII),” Golez stated.

The most recent Olympics were held in London in 2012. The next scheduled Olympics are in 2016 yet in Rio Janeiro in Brazil. The next one after that will be held in Tokyo in 2020.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is the body that decides on venue countries to host the biggest sports event in the world that is staged every four years. I don’t know why but the holding of the Olympic Games coincides with leap year when we have one extra day on earth.

I sounded out our sports assistant editor Gerry Carpio on what he thinks about the idea of Golez. The usually articulate Gerry turned dumbfounded. When he finally recovered his wits, it was like I turned on something that made him rant basic facts that could wake up Golez from dreamland.

Having covered several Olympic Games as a sports reporter, Gerry is like a walking sports encyclopedia about Olympics. The IOC, he says, gives enough lead-time of at least ten years for the country-host to prepare for everything needed to stage at least 36 Olympic sports competitions. He enumerated logistical requirements from venues and arenas for the games and sports villages for the billeting of more than 8,000 athletes and sports officials, plus 10,000 or so of international media to cover the Olympic Games.

This is not to mention the stadium where the opening and closing rites for the Olympic Games must be constructed to accommodate all of these participants in one place at the same time. And we are not even talking about securing the guests who include the VIPs (very important persons from heads of states to royalties etc.) as well as the people all around the world who would want to see the sports action at the various sites of the games.

How about the airport, hotels, transportation, roads and other basic infrastructure not related to sports? But aren’t these structures very much needed during the Olympic period that normally lasts about 21 days? Gerry can go on and on but I have to stop him because he made his point already.

These are the realities on the ground for such a bright idea. The bottom line is: Do we have the resources and the money to bankroll this dream event of holding the Olympic Games here?

I gathered there are already several countries bidding for the 2024 Olympics. This early, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Dubai, the United States and China have sounded out their desire to host the 2024 Olympics.

Despite such big and powerful countries as possible rivals, Golez is obviously undeterred. He maintains that the Philippines hosting the 2024 games is “not an impossible dream.”

Strongly believing it can be done, Golez posted in his FB: “I propose we dream that big dream, the Olympic dream and in the process accelerate our economic development the way the South Koreans did more than three decades ago.”

In 1980, he noted, South Korea was then a rising economy. It won the bid to host the 1988 Olympics. Seoul got to prepare for ten years for the games. Prior to the 1980s, Golez noted, the Philippines and South Korea were on the same level of economic development in 1972.

“But South Korea apparently dreamt bigger dreams than we did as a nation. They dreamt of hosting the Olympics and won that bid just around 10 years after they made that 1972 push for economic development,” Golez said.

The proposal of Golez generated a lot of comments from his fellow netizens who included our fellow columnist Boo Chanco from the STAR Business section. “But shouldn’t we have a serious sports program that will win us our first ever gold medal first? How can we manage the complexities of hosting the Olympics when we can’t even manage the sports associations to produce world-class athletes?” Boo rhetorically asked.

 Since the inception of Olympics, the Philippines had only managed to get two silver medals, both from boxing competitions, and seven bronze medals. Anthony Villanueva got the country’s first silver medal during the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and Onyok Velasco equaled the feat in Atlanta 1996.

Fast forward. The Philippine medal performance in the just concluded Southeast Asian Games held in Myanmar last December 11-22 is not even of Olympics-level. Out of 11 countries that participated in the SEA Games, the Philippines ended seventh with 29 gold medals in the regional sports competition — what more the Olympic Games where more than 200 countries participate?

Though retired already from politics, Golez conceded it will be good subject for a “big debate” whether or not the Philippines should vie to host the Olympics. It’s a good thing that Golez has already finished his three consecutive terms in Congress. If not, surely he would file a bill to push this initiative in the 16th Congress to start the ball rolling.

Levity aside, this proposal coming from Golez draws much from his being a sportsman himself. He was into competitive boxing as a young cadet at the Annapolis Academy.

He waxed philosophical and talked about it using football as analogy: “A good quarterback aims the ball not at where the receiver is but at where the receiver will be. Let’s work on that 11 year trajectory and not be hamstrung by today’s problems most of which we aim to overcome in ten years time.” In the end, Golez admitted he is “just dreaming” about the 2024 Olympic Games in the Philippines.

To his credit though, Golez demonstrated the kind of forward-looking thinker he is, strategically speaking. He was, after all, once a national security adviser in his career in the public service. Like Golez, President Aquino and his officials should start looking beyond 2014.  

 With two and a half years left in his administration’s term, P-Noy need not even think about extending his term through Charter change. A President with vision for his country could lay down the foundation that the next administration can adopt and carry on for the future generation of Filipinos.

Happy dreaming in the year 2014!












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