This is the week. It is crunch time, for the organizers in Tokyo, and the athlete delegations from all around the world, who are gathering in the capital of a nation still embattled in the pandemic, to get the already-delayed Summer Olympic Games underway come Friday. In an environment with overkill safety and security measures to ensure the competitors, officials and staff will be safe from widespread infection that no spectators are allowed in venues, Team Philippines is taking stock of its qualified athletes, and the organizers from this end are pretty sure that the delegation is the best yet.

The Philippine Star reports that the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) is confident in their assessment that the 19 qualified athletes representing this country at the Tokyo Olympics that will open on July 23 are the “sturdiest and most prepared” delegation ever formed in years that the Philippines have been part of the event. PSC chairman William Ramirez notes that the commission has been assembling the participants since the Rio Olympics in 2016, and that they have not been shortchanged in what funds they needed to get the athletes well beyond up to snuff for competition.

“The government poured the people’s money into it here,” says Ramirez during an online briefing this past Sunday, July 19. He mentioned no less than P2 billion being funneled to the training and development of nearly a hundred Filipino Olympic hopefuls covering 18 different sports. In the end the delegation is fielding 19, tried and tested. “We spent billions, because that’s the way we should prepare our athletes.” Ramirez continues, citing a time in past Olympic outings where national representatives were left to fund themselves. That number is also one of the largest number of athletes the country has fielded where recent Olympics are concerned.

Of course, the public funding to prepare the likes of gymnast Carlos Yulo, boxer Nesthy Petecio, skater girl Margielyn Didal, and Rio silver medalist weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, can come across as a double-edged sword. They were helped to get where they are by the Filipino people’s money, as PSC chair Ramirez puts it, so the pressure and expectations are even bigger. He is not overly worried however. While the Philippine athlete has been proven medal-capable in the Olympics, in Tokyo this will, as Ramirez sees it, be the time when Olympic gold is more than a dream for Pinoy Olympians.

Tokyo’s Summer Olympics will run from July 23 to August 8, with 339 events in 33 sports, five of which are debuting in these Games.

Image courtesy of CNN Philippines