The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) can only hope for the coronavirus situation in the country to get better before sending national athletes back to training for the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Chairman William ‘Butch’ Ramirez has his fingers crossed that those bound for the May tilt will be able to resume their buildup by February. But it isn’t lost on him that everything still depends on the circumstances by then.
The Department of Health reported 28,007 COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, a day after the country tallied a record-high 33,169 infections.
“We will not risk lives,” he told the PSA Forum. “I know the coaches are worried at the athletes kasi kung matutuloy man sa May… February, March, April halos tatlong buwan (training). Pero reality ‘yun, you have to live with it.
“Mga February, kung maaawa ang Diyos na peak na ‘yung 33,000 or 40, bumaba ‘yan, baka February magbago ang IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) ng alert level, edi resume tayo ng training.
“I’m not announcing a specific date, but most probably we can resume training by February if IATF declares that according, also, to the situation. We will pray na bumaba ‘yung COVID-19 infections,” Ramirez added.
National athletes were planned to be sent into training again in preparation for the SEA Games, until Metro Manila got placed under Alert Level 3 last January 3 due to the alarming increase of COVID-19 cases.
Under the said quarantine classification, contact sports are prohibited. Only allowed to play on are those operating under a full bubble modality.
Some national sports associations, though, have been training in such a set-up. The fencing team, for instance, has been in Ormoc, Other athletes, meanwhile, are training abroad, like Caloy Yulo in Japan and EJ Obiena in Italy.
“With the present situation, we are evaluating that most probably, when the IATF lowers the alert level that allows us to resume practice, then we can resume practice,” said Ramirez, as Alert Level 2 allows contact sports.
“We can resume practice in PhilSports where there are eight venues; more or less 10-12 in Rizal,” he added in the session presented by San Miguel Corporation, MILO, Amelie Hotel, Braska Restaurant, and PAGCOR.
“Those who are in Japan like si Yulo; si Obiena; then sa Ormoc kay Mayor Goma (Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez), ‘yung sa Samar, Leyte; at ‘yung iba pa na parang nag-bubble training, they can proceed.”
Teams were actually set to return to their practice hubs such as the PhilSports Arena in Pasig and the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Manila, but authorities are still utilizing the said venues as COVID-19 facilities.
And that’s something that Ramirez and the agency fully understands, since they know that such a battle is far more important.
“Tumaas ngayon ‘yung infections, so hawak pa rin nila ‘yun. You know, the Philippine Sports Commission is under the [Office of the] President. Tsaka isa pa, buhay ng mga tao ‘yun e,” said the long-time sports official.