SWIFTER, HIGHER, STRONGER. That is the three words that formed the motto of the Olympics. Those words act as a motivation of every competitor around the world to shine at their best.
In just a week from now, 10,000+ athletes in 206 national teams, plus the Refugee Olympic Athletes, will convene in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil for the Games of the XXXI Olympiad. On the night of August 5 (morning of August 6 in the Philippines), the city of Carnival and samba will liven up to welcome the world for the next 16 days of international competition in different sports.
Meet our Olympians
Team Philippines, which began sending delegates since 1924 (except Moscow 1980), will send twelve (12) competitors in seven (7) sports to wave the banner in Maracanã Stadium:
- Athletics (3): Eric Shawn Cray, Mary Joy Tabal & Marestella Torres**
- Boxing (2): Rogen Landon & Charly Suarez
- Golf (1): Miguel Tabuena
- Swimming (2): Jasmine Alkhaldi* & Jessie Lacuna*
- Table tennis (1): Ian Lariba (OC flag bearer)
- Taekwondo (1): Kirstie Alora
- Weightlifting (2): Nestor Colonia & Hidilyn Diaz**
* Participated in London 2012
** Participated in Beijing 2008 & London 2012
Olympics in the eyes of other Filipinos
For non-Olympians or non-athletic Filipinos, what parts of the international multi-sport event do we care and how do we behave?
- Choreographers, directors and people associated with the arts would certainly drew inspiration on the opening ceremonies next Saturday morning. During the opening, artistic performances are held to reflect the pride of their host city and to the extent, their host nation. Most Filipinos will mostly watch that point, together with the closing ceremony, as part of cultural appreciation.
- Sports analysts — professional, amateur and wannabes — would try to compare and contrast our competitors with big-timers such as Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt or even the “Dream Team” (U.S. men’s basketball team), though it’s not wise to do so.
- A typical sports fan would go apathetic to support our contingent and/or the rest of the games except for the men’s basketball. Following the dismal result of Gilas Pilipinas in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament earlier this month, they will just care more on PBA Governor’s Cup than the crisscross of a live and important Olympic event. Had it won the ticket, otherwise, the contingent would’ve doubled and marked their return after 44 years.
- Ordinary people won’t care about the Olympics because of their own hectic work and sometimes partaking political reform under the new President.
Team PH’s Olympic background
As mentioned before, we were the first Southeast Asian country to participate — despite at that time, we were an American colony with certain extent of autonomy. Team Philippines participated every Olympics ever since except in 1980 where they join the American-led boycott.
In the historical medal count, we earned two silver medals and seven bronzes; majority of which belong to boxing. The most medals earned in an Olympic Game was in 1932 in Los Angeles with three (all bronze). The last Filipino Olympic (silver) medalist was Onyok Velasco in boxing, just 20 years (five Olympiads) ago in Atlanta.
In the essence of participation, the most number of competitors ever sent was 53 in Munich 1972 but returned zilch.
In our historical and political basis, 1924 was an excusable time for being the first time in Olympics with one participant. The first medal drought happened in the early post-war Olympics from 1948 to 1960 because of the focus on economic recovery and stability. The drought ended shortly by Anthony Villanueva’s silver medal victory in Tokyo 1964 and the drought continued until 1984 — refuting the historical revisionists’ claim that we’ve won any medal at the Olympics during Marcos’ time. Speaking of Marcos, Martial Law came into effect two weeks after the end of Munich Games and in 1976 in Montreal, the sole Olympics during that time, the Philippine contingent slashed sharply to 14 due to travel restrictions. On the early post-EDSA chapter, Leopoldo Serantes won the first medal (a bronze) after 24 years in Seoul 1988 and then followed by Roel Velasco in Barcelona 1992 before his younger brother, Onyok, surpassed him.
Comparing with other Southeast Asian countries
It is not fitting to compare big-time Olympians from the Big 3 nations (U.S.A., China & Russia) but we can compare with our Southeast Asian neighbors.
Based on their performance on the medals, the Philippines and five (5) countries have tried their best in certain Olympic sports:
- Badminton: Malaysia and Indonesia
- Boxing: Thailand and the Philippines
- Table tennis: Singapore
- Taekwondo or Weightlifting: Vietnam
Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Timor Leste have yet to earn their own medals to find their own advantage in their specific Olympic sport.
However, the medal trend is where the Philippines get into trouble in the heated comparison.
Before Team PH’s contemporary medal drought, in 1992, Indonesia took the credit of earning their first gold medal in the region but Thailand has the most golds of all time with seven (7). During the drought (2000-present), Vietnam brought home two silver medals while Singapore and Malaysia recently aimed one or two medals in the recent two Olympiads.
Pessimists and wannabe analysts would use raw data of the past Olympics to determine the probability of winning a medal. However, it’s not sensible because using actual head count of participants as an independent variable and the number of medals as the dependent variable would get a negative slope in the linear regression analysis. (See chart above.) Such interpretation will lead that if we send more Olympians, the less medals we will earn. This can be corrected by using the percentage by dividing the actual count over the total participants or medals would get a positive slope. Based on the interpolation, our team’s chances of winning a medal this year will be slim.
TV5: The present Olympic broadcaster
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) awarded TV5 for covering the Rio Games in advance after granted the rights from Sochi in 2014.
Back in 2012, TV5 carried the London Games and at that time, they had the AKTV block time deal with IBC 13. Such block time was a benefit for the latter; it didn’t wipe off all the liabilities of the neglected network but it did help lowered their capital deficiency. Yet, it sacrificed the return of investment of Manny V. Pangilinan, hence, the pullout a year after.
As they prepare for this edition of Olympic Games, TV5 became preponderant and contemplated months ago by preoccupying the morning slot (as From the Tube observed). This is because most competitions of different disciplines occur morning to evening there in Rio (mid-evening to the following morning here); the time difference in Rio and Manila is 11 hours. However, what dilemma will emanate from being solo — since AksyonTV is committed to carry national volleyball leagues and minor sporting whatnots — is when an Olympic sporting event that features big-timers or our own athlete(s) happened at the same time with or during the PBA. Despite the new PBA Rush channel, which is exclusive for Cignal, the coverage of the league is parallel. Again, as said earlier, sports fans would care on the national basketball league than the Olympic event as the latter can be aired on tape delay or they can follow the live coverage in their mobile devices.
What if we fail? What’s to blame?
With all being said, let’s reflect on the perspective of the pessimists and skeptics. Many of you agree on this main question: “What if our team brings home the hopia (no medals) instead of the bacon for the fifth Olympiad in a row? Where did we go wrong?”
Maybe, you agree with the factors: the lack of focus of athletes, the unmaintained facilities, the seasonal (non-continuous) funding and the worst thing, apathy of the people.
Maybe, you agree that the best solution is for Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Chairman Butch Ramirez to intervene with the iron fist like President Duterte by convincing the members of the Philippine Olympic Committee to shake up for a new mandate by sacking Peping Cojuangco for good and elect a new president of the NOC. In short, change must also come there.
In the next four years in Tokyo, we don’t know whose broadcaster will cover the most important global sporting event. Assuming that they have enough funds to pay for the broadcast rights to the IOC, PTV (or the future People’s Broadcasting Corporation) would go for a comeback after the Athens Games in 2004 and maybe simulcast with IBC until the privatization dilemma in Broadcast City has been settled. Hopefully, the potential network should learn from the BBC and NBC on thinking long term to earn such period-based broadcast rights of the Games.
Until that happens, for our 12 Olympians in Rio, the Turf wishes them all the best and to give it all for our country.
Go Team Philippines!
Photos (except for charts) are courtesy of the following:
- Rio 2016 Olympics Logo: Wikimedia Commons/IOC
- President Duterte and the Olympians & Anthony Villanueva: Rappler
- Onyok Velasco: Listal.com
- PSC Chairman Butch Ramirez: Manila Bulletin
- POC President Peping Cojuangco: Inquirer.net