With the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring the COVID-19 situation a world pandemic, the Philippine Sports Commission issued policy directives, with one of them placing its two major facilities — Rizal Memorial Sports Complex (Manila) and Philsports Complex (Pasig) — under “restricted access” to ensure the safety of its national athletes, employees, and the public.
“We have to be proactive in this situation and take these hard decisions for the safety of our athletes and employees,” explained PSC Chairman William Ramirez, addressing the Management Committee of the agency last Wednesday. The escalation of the risk-spread of the dreaded virus went very quickly from high to pandemic in a matter of days.
Except for those still preparing for qualifying competitions for the Olympics, all national athletes and members of the junior team have been requested to go home, as all dormitories need to be vacated as part of the agency’s prevention plan.
“Only those who get an endorsement to proceed from Olympics Chef de Mission Nonong Araneta will be allowed to travel overseas,” instructed Ramirez. National sports associations, under whose supervision athletes train, would have more information to give a good assessment and advice better on whether to proceed.
Athletes coming back to the country from competitions will be received at the airport by PSC personnel and will either be assisted to their plane, bus, or boat ride to their respective residences. They may also opt to take a 14-day “preventive rest and monitoring” at the RMSC North Tower under the watch of the medical team of the agency.
Foreign travel has also been suspended for all athletes, coaches, officials, and employees to lower the risk of contracting the illness or spreading it locally. “This shall be in effect for a month, from March 14 to April 14,” stated the advisory signed by PSC Officer-in-charge Commissioner Celia Kiram.
The same advisory also informed that all bookings and reservations for the use of its facilities are revoked or canceled. It also reiterated a previous announcement that PSC projects, programs, and events including those sponsored and organized in cooperation with NSAs or LGUs are indefinitely postponed.
The agency has also advised the public that work is suspended on Friday, March 13, to give way to sanitation efforts to be undertaken by its Operations Department.
PSC Chief of Staff Marc Edward Velasco disclosed that the agency’s Medical and Scientific Athletes Services will issue self-quarantine guidelines for athletes and employees.
Thursday afternoon, the PSC called an emergency meeting with officials of NSAs with athletes still billeted in its dormitories, to advise them of the new directives. Officials from boxing, weightlifting, muay, athletics, fencing, and Paralympics attended the meeting presided over by Kiram.