The send-off ceremony on Monday saw the president making a specific request

By Catherine Orda | Photo by Joan Bondoc courtesy of Philippine Daily Inquirer/Inquirer.net

President Duterte had a few choice words for the Philippine athletes set to compete at the 18th Asian Games in Indonesia. “All I ask from you is that you do your best and that you do it fair and square,” he said during the send-off ceremony for the Philippine delegation at Malacañang on Monday.

The delegates, whom he referred to as some of “the most dedicated and passionate athletes of our country today,” are set to participate in 35 categories.

Citing the delegation’s rigorous training with the Philippine Olympic Committee, Duterte said that the athletes—in return for their hard work and granted that they play fair—can expect the government “to continue to support the development of our athletes and intensify our commitment towards sports excellence, global competitiveness, and the greater glory of your country.”

Further vouching for the administration’s full support, the Chief Executive added: “…every victory you bring back home is shared by the nation.”

Citing the delegation’s rigorous training with the Philippine Olympic Committee, Duterte said that the athletes—in return for their hard work and granted that they play fair—can expect the government “to continue to support the development of our athletes and intensify our commitment towards sports excellence, global competitiveness, and the greater glory of your country.”

“We pray for your well-being and hope for your successful trip and also a safe return to the country,” he said. “I wish you the best luck at mabuhay ang atletang Pilipino,” Duterte said, ending his message to the 272-person delegation.

Some notable teams and figures on the list of Philippine representatives, which comprise 147 male and 125 female athletes, include Rio Olympics silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz, gymnast Carlos Yulo, the men’s and women’s dragon-boat teams, and the Gilas Pilipinas men’s basketball team. Meanwhile, BMX rider Daniel Caluag, the sole Filipino gold medalist at the 2014 games in South Korea, will be defending his title.

The 18th Asian Games will be held August 18 to September 2 in Jakarta and Palembang.