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30 million pesos await PH athlete who can bring home PH's first Olympic gold

Tens of millions of pesos await the Philippines' first Olympic gold medalist as another businessman added to the already substantial cash reward that has been set up for Filipino athletes who will bring home a medal from the Tokyo Olympics.

Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Abraham "Bambol" Tolentino said in the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum webcast on Tuesday that San Miguel Corp. head Ramon S. Ang vowed to match the rewards set forth by law for Olympic medalists.

According to R.A. No. 10699 signed by the late President Benigno S. Aquino III in 2015, a Filipino Olympic gold medalist is entitled to P10 million while P5 million and P2 million are in store for silver and bronze winners, respectively.

Business tycoon Manuel V. Pangilinan, through the MVP Sports Foundation which is also backing 14 Olympians, earlier made a pledge of the same amounts.

"Now, RSA is giving the same amount," shared Tolentino. "I expect more to come once the gold is delivered. It may even reach P50 million."

The law coupled with the pledges from Pangilinan and Ang now hike the total cash prize for a gold medalist to, at least, P30 million; for a silver medalist to, at least, P15 million; and for a bronze medalist to, at least, P6 million. As further motivation for a prospective gold winner, Tolentino himself will be awarding a house and lot in Tagaytay as well.

The POC head is pretty confident that the 19 Filipino athletes headed to Tokyo can end the Philippines' Olympic gold medal drought.

"This is our time, we'll win that gold as one," he exclaimed, referencing the 2019 Southeast Asian Games tagline.

Meanwhile, pole vaulter EJ Obiena is likely to be replaced as one of the country's official flag bearers in the opening ceremonies due to a scheduling conflict.

According to Tolentino, the organizers are now requiring flag bearers to be in Japan at least 48 hours before the opening on July 23. Obiena is scheduled to arrive from Europe on the day itself at 12:30 p.m., but with strict entry protocol, he is more than likely to miss the 6 p.m. call time for the 8 p.m. affair.

"It will be hard to gamble. With that, I let the athletics federation know that it is likely the flag bearer may get replaced due to the recent development in Tokyo," explained the POC President.

The pole vaulter's replacement, according to Tolentino, will also be male, and shall have his competition schedule clear of the opening ceremony. Judoka Kiyomi Watanabe, on the other hand, remains in place as one of the country's official flag bearers since she has long been staying in Japan for training.