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Former PH sports leader Celso Dayrit passes away

Celso Dayrit served as a PSC commissioner in 1993 and POC president from 1994-2004. Fencing Confederation of Asia
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--The Philippine sports community lost one of its modern day pillars.

Celso "Cito" Dayrit, who was among the more respected leaders in sports during his time in the 90's and the 2000's, passed away on Wednesday night at age 70 due to COVID-19.

Dayrit had been a vital figure in the successes of the Philippines in international sports during the said span as the former Philippine Sports Commission commissioner and Philippine Olympic Committee president.

"Philippine sports lost a wise man today. He is one of my very first friends in sports and I have always admired his deep understanding of olympism and sports dynamics in the country. He will be truly missed," said current PSC chairman Butch Ramirez.

“It is a big loss to us in the sports community and to me personally, as one of my mentors,” added current POC president Rep. Bambol Tolentino.

PBA board chairman and boxing president Ricky Vargas, who was the POC chief before Tolentino took over the post, then said, "I am filled with immense sadness at Cito Dayrit’s passing. He was a friend and valued adviser and I relied on his professionalism, vast knowledge and experience and honest point of view."

Dayrit was part of the PSC in 1993, but the following year, he left the post to lead the POC.

Under his helm at the POC, the Philippines scored a silver medal in the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta through boxer Onyok Velasco.

He would hold the POC presidency until 2004, but not before he established PHILSOC, which managed the Philippine hosting of the 2005 SEA Games.

Dayrit then became a five-term president of the Fencing Confederation of Asia and has remained a vital figure in the sport.

He was also active in various activities of the International Olympic Committee even as he founded the Philippine Olympic Academy and the Philippine Olympians Association.

"Philippine and international sports just suffered a devastating loss," added Vargas.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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