(SPOT.ph) Pole vaulter EJ Obiena is one of the Philippines' most promising young athletes. As of writing, the Olympian ranks fifth in the World Rankings of the Men's Pole Vault with a personal best of 5.93 meters, which happens to be both a national record and an Asian record. But after the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association's non-endorsement up to the last day of registration, he will be missing the 2022 World Indoor Championships happening today despite qualifying for the competition. He also failed to get the association's endorsement for the Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam in May, the World Athletics Championships in the United States in July, and the Asian Games in China in September. Following these moves of the national sports association, the Philippine Olympic Committee announced on Thursday, March 17 that they're suspending Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA).
The suspension will be ratified by the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) General Assembly on March 30. Once ratified, it removes any authority of PATAFA over the national athletics team to the upcoming Southeast Asian Games. This gives Obiena a chance to compete in another international championship.
POC president Representative Abraham Tolentino called out the sports body for failing to serve its purpose as a national athletics association (NSA), which supposedly "has the dedication and commitment toward the development of the sport, promoting the ideals of the Olympic Movement and the spirit of sportsmanship."
The non-endorsement of Obiena, according to Tolentino, "has created a national issue." Under the International Olympic Committee Charter, he added, the Olympian "has two reasons to be endorsed—sports merit and inspiration to the youth."
The lifting of PATAFA's suspension may be earlier than the 90-day duration."If the PSC’s mediation effort over PATAFA and EJ [Obiena] is completed and ironed out, its suspension will also be lifted," Tolentino explained.
This isn't the first time that the POC stepped in after a non-endorsement by an NSA. In 1985, POC intervened on Lydia de Vega's inclusion on the national team for the ASEAN Cup. In 1988, Leopoldo Serantes was endorsed by the POC for the Summer Olympics in Seoul amid the boxing association's leadership issues. He won a bronze medal for the light flyweight category.
Formerly known as the Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association, PATAFA is a sports governing body formally recognized as a national sports association by the POC in 2015. Philippine Sports Commission, on the other hand, is a government-mandated agency that is currently led by Butch Ramirez. They provide funding to national athletes supervised by NSAs. It is independent of the POC, which is a private and non-governmental organization recognized by the International Olympic Committee to have sole authority for representation of the Philippines in the Olympic Games, the Asian Games, the Southeast Asian Games, and other multi-event competitions.
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