Philippines uses Olympic fest to ready for Asian Games
Over 7,000 athletes will participate in the festival and the main athletic event will be a qualifier for the Asian games in Doha in December.india Updated: Jun 02, 2006 14:26 IST
The Philippines is upgrading its annual celebration of the founding of the Olympics from a traditional one-day 'fun run' to a weeklong festival that will be used to choose national contenders for the Asian games in 2006.
"We decided to expand it to 10 events but there's so much interest among sports associations that we decided to hold a week-long festival," Philippine Olympic Committee chairman Robert Aventajado said.
Around 7,000 athletes, including 120 from six other Asian countries, will take part in the festival on June 18-25 and the main athletic event will act as a qualifying round for the Asian games in Doha in December.
The rest of the events, including boxing, swimming and bowling, will be used to select Philippine athletes for the national training pool.
The Philippines won three gold medals - in billiards, bowling and equestrianism - at the 2004 Asian Games in South Korea and Aventajado said they were also aiming for medals in boxing and taekwondo in Qatar.
The Philippines hosted last year's South East Asian Games and came first in the competition, scooping up 113 gold medals compared to second-placed Thailand's 87.
However, there was little local fanfare about the event.
The Philippine government spends a third of its budget on interest repayments on its $76 billion debt and there is little money left over for sports facilities or promotion.
Despite the lack of cash, basketball, boxing, billiards and badminton are popular sports in the Philippines.