MANILA – Group practices of athletes in the professional and national team levels have been suspended in the so-called "NCR Plus" areas placed under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
The Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) issued an advisory asking all the national sports associations (NSAs) to postpone their athletes' training within Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal.
"The NSA's are encouraged to practice online individual training and no group activities shall be conducted," the advisory, signed by PSC Acting Deputy Executive Director Reina Evangelista, read.
Evangelista called on the national athletes to "ensure proper compliance with relevant precautionary measures of the Department of Health and the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease issued health and safety protocol at all times."
This heavily affects those who are at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, the combat sport fighters who are hoping to crack the national team for the Tokyo Olympics and the Gilas Pilipinas pool for the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers third window and the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Al Panlilio on Monday quickly called off the Gilas practice following the PSC advisory.
“The timing is unfortunate because our Gilas Pilipinas pool has been putting a lot of work to prepare for FIBA competitions in the coming months. It’s been a difficult stretch for the SBP and the team as Covid-19 has affected so many of our plans but we have no other choice but to adjust and move forward,” Panlilio said.
He assured that the SBP would continue to support the PSC as they exert their effort to care for the national athletes amid the pandemic.
“As always, we will remain supportive of the decisions coming from the PSC and will also strictly follow the relevant precautionary measure from the Department of Health and the IATF,” Panlilio added.
On the other hand, the Games and Amusements Board (GAB) followed suit and told the professional athletes to have their own training "limited to solo or individual activities conducted indoors or anywhere within the individual's private property."
The postponement of group training is in line with Section 4.1.a of the PSC-GAB-DOH Joint Administrative Order, which caters to the resumption of sports practices amid the pandemic.
A waiting game ensues as to when the athletes can train together again as President Rodrigo Duterte Monday night kept the ECQ status in NCR Plus until April 4, but subject to further review.
However, some doctor members of the IATF proposed to extend the lockdown in NCR Plus, citing that having ECQ only for the Holy Week would not be enough to curb the upward trend in Covid-19 cases.