MANILA,  July 29, 2004
By Joey Villar and Nelson Beltran  -  The Philippine Olympic Committee yesterday appealed to President Arroyo to step into the funding problem besetting the local coverage of the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece next month after the International Olympic Committee denied the country the broadcast rights to the quadrennial games.

POC president Celso Dayrit said hopes are still high that the nation can watch the Games on television although it will take a lot of effort to be able to raise the money needed to pay NBN 4s arrears to IOC amounting to $1.2 million.

"We just hope we can still salvage the situation and that something can still be done," Dayrit said after the POC General Assembly yesterday in Makati.

The debt is on top of the Olympic broadcast rights amounting to about $1.8 million.

Dayrit said the Philippines stands to become the only country out of the 220 participating nations that will not be airing the Olympics here.

It can be recalled that NBN 4 has promised to pay its obligations early this year after holding talks with both the IOC and the Asian Broadcasting Union, which owns the broadcast rights of the Olympics in the region.

But the IOC issued a memorandum early this month informing the POC that the country will not get any TV rights because the station has not paid the amount.

Officials of the cash-strapped NBN 4 said they need help from the government agencies and private entities to save the coverage.

"Without funds, NBN cant do it alone. There must be a concerted effort among government agencies and private corporations if were to solve our problem," said NBN chairperson Mia Concio.

Concio said they have to raise that amount before Aug. 3 or the Philippines wont see the Athens Games, particularly the campaigns of Filipino athletes, on TV.

"Everybody must help and chip in kaya Im making an appeal para sa bayan. Otherwise, we would be the only country on earth without TV coverage of the Olympics," Concio said.

"Ive been going the rounds the last four months. But as of now, weve raised only $300,000 from private financing," Concio added.

Incidentally, the rights fee imposed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for the Athens Games is $600,000. Aside from that, the IOC requires NBN to first settle its financial obligation for the Sydney Games worth $1.2 million.

"Actually, payag na ang IOC na $600,000 muna ang ibigay namin provided we have a bank guarantee that we would pay another $600,000 in the next 24 months. Then, we would settle another $600,000 with the Asian Broadcasting Union for our Sydney Games coverage," said Concio.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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