Given the unresolved financial issues from the last biennial meet, the words “Southeast Asian Games funding” are a sore spot in the national government. Economic recovery and the astronomic cost of surviving the pandemic have been the priority. There could be no other. On top of all this, no clear sign of eventual liquidation by PHISGOC means that the Philippine Sports Commission will not immediately be able to recover the assistance it gave for the 2019 SEA Games.
Thus, not only is the government unable to retrieve its expenses from two years ago, its primary source of support, the National Sports Development Fund (NSDF), is still not at full capacity. The PSC, which ensured the success of the last SEA Games, is now trying to find ways to succeed at the next one in Hanoi.
Both the national government and local government units are now preoccupied with securing vaccines for their constituents, the bulk of which are expected to arrive between May and June. This is another gigantic but necessary expense. Therefore, sports has to take a backseat for now. National sports authorities have to find alternative sources of funds, as PAGCOR is only now starting to recover, while legislators are concerned with helping expedite the influx of vaccines.
What if the PSC just funds all the previous gold medalists and sends them to Hanoi? There were a lot of them, anyway, well over a hundred, including those in team sports. That seems like a more practical – and effective – strategy. It is already admirable that the agency has not forgone going to Vietnam altogether, given its tremendous sacrifice in 2019, and the perennial problem of liquidation coming from national sports associations (NSA). Besides, it’s only logical to send proven winners given that only a few Southeast Asian countries (like Thailand and Indonesia) actually kept on training their athletes even during the course of the pandemic.
Given that scenario, the percentage of those who would repeat at gold medalists would be very high; the percentage of those who would simply medal, even higher. Let’s say 70 to 80 percent bring home medals. That would be an awesome return on investment.
Another scenario would be for the NSAs to find sponsors. It’s been done before. Although many corporate advertisers have struggled, many have also done well. And there was also a substantial decline in advertising for print and broadcast, which would account for significant savings from 2020. Besides, the Philippines is likely the only country with this hybrid situation, wherein individual sports are run by private groups, while funding and oversight comes from the government. Something has to change.
It is admirable that both the PSC and Philippine Olympic Committee are committed to going to the SEA Games. But the NSAs must get out of their mendicant mentality and help out by standing on their own two feet. PSC chairman Butch Ramirez has been advising that for years.