Sporting leader Celso Dayrit dies of COVID-19

Longtime Philippine sports executive Celso "Cito" Dayrit succumbed to COVID-19 Wednesday evening, according to multiple reports. He was 70.

A champion fencer, Dayrit was serving his fifth term as president of the Fencing Confederation of Asia, a position he had held since 2005, while also having headed the Philippine Fencing Association from 1997 to 2008.

When the Philippines hosted the regional meet in 2019, he served as the Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) Federation chairman as well.

In the 1990s, Dayrit held various positions for the development of local sports, namely commissioner of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) from 1993 to 1998 and Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) chief from 1999 to 2004.

"Philippine sports lost a wise man today. He is one of my very first friends in sports and I have always admired his deep understanding of Olympism and sports dynamics in the country. He will be truly missed," expressed PSC Chairman Butch Ramirez in a statement.

A champion of Olympism in the Philippines, Dayrit became the first Filipino to be accredited by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as an International Course Director of the Olympic Solidarity Itinerant Administration School for sports leaders as well as the first Filipino chairman of the SEA Games Federation Executive Committee in 1999.

For POC Pres. Rep. Abraham Tolentino, Dayrit's loss will be a huge loss to Filipino sports.

"It is a big loss to us in the sports community and to me personally, as one of my mentors. He was a big help to me in foreign relations especially in the Southeast Asian Games Federation. I will surely miss him," he remarked.