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POC fights for Obiena



Citing a provision in the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) yesterday vowed to move heaven and earth to send EJ Obiena to the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi in May.

“We (at the POC) will fight for it,” Tolentino said during the virtual Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum yesterday.

“The NOC will (carry the fight for Obiena).”

Obiena, ranked as the fifth-best in the world, has been feuding with the Philippine Track and Field Association (Patafa) over the issue of liquidation.

With the Patafa about to drop Obiena from the national team, the POC came to his defense, saying if the Patafa doesn’t include him in the lineup and the Philippine Sports Commission stops financing him, it will help him get to Hanoi.

Tolentino said the IOC points out that an inclusion of an athlete for competition is not based on achievements alone.

“(The selection of an athlete is) not only based on sporting merit but based on whether the athlete will inspire.”

“Such selection shall be based not only on the sports performance of an athlete but also on his ability to serve as an example to the sporting youth of his country,” Tolentino while reading the specific IOC provision.

Still, the POC admits its mission to get Obiena credentialed for the SEA Games is going to be “a test case.”

Efforts to patch things up between the involved parties have proven to be futile with Obiena, who is training under Ukrainian Vitaly Petrov in Formia, Italy, deciding to beg off from the mediation process initiated by the PSC.

In the event Obiena ends up being dropped, the POC said it will make sure the athlete will get to continue training in preparation for Hanoi and the Asian Games in China in September.

Tolentino said the POC has a list of 80 athletes who would eventually be funded by the private sector.

Obiena, 26, is part of that protected list, according to Tolentino.