Filipino Olympian pole vaulter EJ Obiena announced on Wednesday that he has withdrawn from the Asian Indoor Athletics Championships in Kazakhstan due to financial difficulties.
The 27-year-old Olympian revealed that his team has not received payment for over a year and he has been struggling to bring his poles to Kazakhstan.
The news of his withdrawal sparked concern among his supporters who were even willing to offer financial assistance.
However, Obiena has declined the offer of financial support and urged his supporters not to give money.
He emphasized that as a national athlete, his expenses have already been approved and funded by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) through taxpayer revenues.
He said it would be unethical to ask for additional financial support and described it as “double dipping.”
Obiena wrote on social media, “I am a national athlete, and my expenses have been approved for payment by the PSC and funded from taxpayer revenues. As all of you are taxpayers, I must respect that you have already paid for my training.”
The pole vaulter stated that a team of sports officials is working to resolve the financial problem, and he has faith that it will be resolved soon.
He also discouraged anyone from raising money on his behalf and said that if the situation ever calls for it, he would make an announcement himself.
Obiena has had a successful 2023 indoor season, winning five medals in five tournaments, including three golds.
He expressed his gratitude for the support and kindness of his fans, but asked them to use their hard-earned money for themselves and their families.
Obiena concluded with a message of encouragement, “Laban Pilipinas! (Fight Philippines!).”
The PSC has responded to the financial concerns raised by Filipino pole vaulter EJ Obiena on social media.
PSC Chairman Richard Bachmann stated that he has already taken internal actions and has communicated with Obiena and the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA) regarding the matter.
He assured that the government agency will do everything in its power to resolve the concerns as quickly as possible.
In his Facebook post, Obiena stated that members of his team, including himself, have not received payment for over a year due to bureaucratic delays.
This has caused financial difficulties for the team and has led to some members considering leaving.
As a result, Obiena decided to withdraw from the Asian Indoor Athletics Championships in Kazakhstan.
Bachmann underscored that the PSC remains committed to providing the best support possible to its elite athletes, including Obiena.
He assured the pole vaulter and the PATAFA that the PSC will continue to work towards a resolution of their financial concerns.
Obiena is a top athlete who has won multiple medals in his career.
In 2022, Obiena achieved remarkable success in various competitions across Europe and Asia, winning a total of 12 gold medals, 2 silver medals, and 3 bronze medals.
He made headlines by breaking both the national and Asian records with his 5.94-meter vault in the men’s pole vault at the World Athletics Championship in Oregon, USA, where he also took home a bronze medal.
Obiena further proved his skill by defeating his rival Duplantis and taking first place at the Diamond League in Brussels, Belgium.
His financial difficulties are affecting not just his own training, but also the sustainability of his team’s preparations for the Paris 2024 Olympics.
The PSC’s response to his concerns is a step in the right direction toward ensuring that Obiena and his team are able to continue their training without any further financial hindrances.