Members of Team Philippines will be flying in batches starting Sunday to see action in the 4th Asian Para Games set from 22 to 28 October in Hangzhou, China.
Philippine Sports Commission chairman Richard “Dickie” Bachmann said he already had a discussion with chief of mission Ral Rosario to iron out the kinks and challenges of transporting 73 para athletes to the bustling metropolis in Eastern China.
Actually, the initial plan was to transport all the para athletes and their respective equipment straight to Hangzhou on a chartered flight via China Eastern Airlines.
But after some discussions with the company, the government sports agency found out that there will be challenges in manpower and flight availability.
The PSC then checked with the Philippine Airlines but the country’s flag carrier only flies from Manila to Shanghai that would prompt the national delegation to take a two-hour bus ride to Hangzhou.
Bachmann said he immediately declined the offer when he found out that the para athletes will be taking a two-hour land travel to Hangzhou together with their respective equipment despite the assistance being offered by the local organizing committee.
Finally, the PSC reached a deal with Cathay Pacific, which would have a three-hour layover in Hong Kong before flying to Hangzhou.
“I already talked to the chief of mission yesterday and we already approved Cathay,” Bachmann said.
“Actually, it was supposed to be PAL. But when I found out that our para athletes will be taking a bus to Hangzhou, I did not allow it.”
Sports commissioner Walter Torres admitted that there were initial challenges in transporting the para athletes.
He said aside from their equipment, they also have to convince the airlines for longer boarding and disembarkation time, manpower support, and logistical assistance, especially since they are dealing with persons with disability.
Fortunately, they were able to iron out the kinks.
“We’re finding the best possible way to transport our athletes to Hangzhou,” Torres, who is no stranger to flying with the para athletes being a former secretary general of the Philippine Paralympic Committee.
“I’m glad the PSC and PPC have an open line of communication to make sure that the best possible assistance will be given to our para athletes.”
Rosario, deputy chief of mission Millet Bonoan, and two staff from the PSC and PPC will leave on Saturday before the first two batches of para athletes fly on Sunday and Monday.