PSC chairman Butch Ramirez, left, and POC president Bambol Tolentino

Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Bambol Tolentino and Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman Butch Ramirez supported Yuka Saso’s decision to choose Japanese citizenship when she reaches 22 years old.

While the country has lost a gem, Tolentino believes Saso “remains a Filipino by heart” and thanked the reigning US Women’s Open champion for donning the Philippine flag in major global competitions.

“I would like to thank her personally for representing our country for the past years,” Tolentino said.

“Her personal business decision will help her develop more as a person and athlete.”

As a Japanese citizen, Saso will not have trouble obtaining visas when she travels and competes abroad. Japan also boasts of health and social benefits and numerous sponsorships in the sport.

Under Japanese nationality law, people who hold dual citizenship must choose their nationality when they turn 22. Saso, who is born in Bulacan to a Japanese father and a Filipina mother, is now 20.

Ramirez also echoed Tolentino’s sentiments and admitted they have discussed this issue during the Tokyo Olympics last August.

“That is her right to make that decision. I fully understand,” Ramirez said.

“There are big international golf competitions in Japan, a rich country. It would have been different if we have those.”

Saso currently competes in the 4th Toto Japan Classic in Shiga Prefecture, which stakes 33 million yen (around P14.6 million) to the champion.

Source: Manila Bulletin (