The Philippine Superliga (PSL) formally canceled the Grand Prix following the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to place the entire Luzon under enhanced community quarantine due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus.
PSL chairman Philip Ella Juico disclosed the development, saying that they had no choice but to call off the import-laced conference as they put a premium on the health and safety of the athletes, coaches, officials and other stakeholders.
Juico said they encourage both local and foreign players to go home to be with their loved ones in these trying times.
He said the league will continue to monitor and assess the situation in a bid to resume the Grand Prix to a later date, or once the window for international transfer formally opens around October.
“We are putting the welfare of our fans and players above anything else,” said Juico, a seasoned sports executive and president of the Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association.
Prior to the outbreak of the deadly pulmonary disease, the league was having one of the finest editions of the Grand Prix.
Foreign players like Americans Katherine Bell of Petron and Lindsay Stalzer of F2 Logistics, Montenegrin Tatjana Bokan of Chery Tiggo, French Maeva Orle of PLDT Home Fibr and Canadian Shainah Joseph of Sta. Lucia made a massive impact in their first few games, prompting sideliners to tag them as the best batch of imports the league had ever seen.
Orle, in fact, even erupted for 50 points in a heart-stopping five-set loss to the Crossovers last March 10.
PSL president Ian Laurel said their decision to call off the ongoing Grand Prix wasn’t easy.
“We needed to evaluate the situation and came up with this tough decision,” said Laurel, adding that they will call for a “special team owners meeting” as soon as the situation improves to plot the resumption of the centerpiece conference at the end of the season.
“But we will be back with a bang when all of these are over.”
So far, the Philippines has 380 cases of the coronavirus with a death toll of 25, prompting the national government to encourage everyone to go on quarantine while putting a halt to large gatherings like sports events, concerts, and conventions.
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