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Windfall awaits Pinoy Olympians

Joaquin Henson (The Philippine Star) - May 1, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines has never won an Olympic gold medal since joining the quadrennial event in 1924 and whoever makes the breakthrough will receive a P10 million windfall from the government as stipulated by R. A. 10699. The incentive translates into about $200,000 which is the fifth highest bonus for an Olympic gold medalist by any country.

Singapore tops the list of countries with the biggest cash prize for an Olympic gold at $1 million which was given to swimmer Joseph Schooling for placing first in 100-meter butterfly at the 2016 Rio Games. Singapore also has the highest bonuses for a silver medal ($500,000) and a bronze ($250,000). Next in the ladder is another Southeast Asian nation, Indonesia with a $746,000 bonus for a gold. The Indonesian pair of Liliyana Natsir and Tontowi Ahmad claimed the prize for bagging the gold in badminton mixed doubles in 2016. Kazakhstan is third with $250,000 for an Olympic gold and Azerbaijan fourth with $248,000.

With the Philippines offering $200,000 for an Olympic gold, four of the top five countries giving the highest rewards are from Asia. The US is No. 10 with a $37,500 bonus for an Olympic gold and Australia is No. 14 with $13,800. Aside from the government incentive, the private sector is expected to add to the cash pot for the first Filipino Olympic gold medalist and others who achieve the feat. MVP Sports Foundation, for instance, will surely contribute although at the moment, executive director Ryan Gregorio said no final decision has been made regarding incentives for medalists. POC president Rep. Bambol Tolentino recently said he would put up a house and lot for anyone who brings home a gold from Tokyo.

Tolentino said he’s hoping for at least one Olympic gold medal while PSC chairman Butch Ramirez said his target is at least two. So far, only seven have qualified for Tokyo but chef de mission Mariano Araneta said the goal is to bring in 15 to 20. “My hope is at least 15 but there’s a possibility we could reach 20,” he said. Tolentino said from all indications, the Tokyo Games will push through. “I think no more cancellations,” he said. “They (Tokyo organizers) just made some health controls, that’s why they had an emergency. We have lots of possible qualifiers and there will be additional incentives definitely from the President and other private sponsors.”

Tolentino said POC intends to vaccinate every member of the Philippine delegation before leaving for Tokyo. “All athletes and officials, everyone who is Olympic-bound can avail of the vaccine the POC will procure aside from the commitment of Mr. Ricky Razon and from the national government so we’re looking at three sources,” he said.  Regarding the cycling NSA of which he is president, Tolentino said BMX rider Patrick Coo is still in contention for an Olympic slot and his fate will depend on his performance at a qualifying competition in Bogota, Colombia, on May 29-30. Coo, the 2019 Asian BMX junior champion, participated in the Olympic BMX race test event in Ariake, Japan, before the pandemic struck. Coo, 19, is a Fil-Am from southeast Los Angeles.

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