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Dayrit, sports pillar, dies

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The country mourned the passing of one of its sports pillars.

Celso Dayrit, who headed the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) from 1994 to 2004 passed away Wednesday night due to complications from Covid-19. He was 70.

At the time of his death, Dayrit was the president of the Fencing Confederation of Asia, a position he held starting in 2005, having been reelected four times.

He has a solid sports lineage with his father, Francisco, serving as the pioneer of fencing in the country for founding the Philippine Amateur Fencers Association in the 1930s.

“Philippine sports lost a wise man today,” said Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chair William “Butch” Ramirez in his tribute to Dayrit, who also served as PSC commissioner in the 1990s.

“He was one of my very first friends in sports and I have always admired his deep understanding of Olympism and sports dynamics in the country.”

The current POC leadership also paid homage to Dayrit’s passing.

“It is a big loss to us in the sports community and to me personally, as one of my mentors,” POC president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino said in a statement.

“Before his confinement, he gave me one message that I will publish soon. He was a big help to me in foreign relations especially in the Southeast Asian Games Federation. He always gave me advice, I will surely miss him.”

Meanwhile, Dayrit’s allies in the POC were also saddened by his demise.

POC chair Steve Hontiveros, Dayrit’s secretary general during his term in the POC, said Dayrit was a true friend and a gentleman.

“We were together during the turbulent times in the POC,” said Hontiveros, who also served as secretary general of Dayrit’s successor in Jose “Peping” Cojuangco.

“But when Cong (Cojuangco) was running as POC president in 2004, I told him that I would be supporting him. Cito was gentleman enough to withdraw his candidacy that paved the way for Cong to emerge as POC president. Despite that, Cito and I still remained good friends.”

For his major contributions to sports, Dayrit received the Olympic Merit Awards from the Association of National Olympic Committees in 2006 and was likewise cited by the Olympic Council of Asia the following year.

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