Euphoric Philippines, rewards greet Olympic gold winner home

Euphoric Philippines, rewards greet Olympic gold winner home


MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The rewards, the citations and the nationwide parties are going to have to wait, for a week or so anyway.

Philippine weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, fresh from winning her country’s first Olympic gold medal in nearly a century at the Tokyo Games, arrived in Manila on Wednesday and was whisked off to a hotel for seven days of quarantine.

“Gold at last!” read a banner at the airport as military personnel waved Philippine flags and applauded when Diaz landed. But not even her historic medal can eclipse coronavirus protocols in a country grappling with continuing virus outbreaks and an economic crisis.

The 30-year-old Diaz, who won gold in the women’s 55-kilogram category on Monday in her fourth Olympic appearance, will be able to collect her rewards once she is released from quarantine.

Philippine officials and business tycoons have offered more than 40 million pesos ($800,000) in cash. Others have pledged a residential condominium unit in an upscale district, a vacation house in a resort city south of Manila, a new van and free gasoline, as well as free commercial flights for life.

President Rodrigo Duterte and his Cabinet members congratulated Diaz by video.

The Philippines has the second-largest number of COVID-19 infections and deaths in Southeast Asia. Lockdowns and quarantines caused the economy to plummet last year in the country’s worst post-war recession.

The Philippines has competed at every edition of the Summer Olympics since 1924 — except for a boycott of the 1980 Moscow Games — and has won three silver and seven bronze medals. Diaz won a silver medal in 2016, her country’s first appearance on an Olympic podium in 20 years.

Ahead of the pandemic-delayed Tokyo Games, travel restrictions forced Diaz to undergo training for more than a...

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