PSC, POC looking for training, budget Plan B
Filipino athletes bound for the coming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games were all looking forward to whipping themselves back to shape after the holidays.
They’ll have to wait a little longer as sports officials scramble for creative ways to get them back in training after their usual venues were shuttered by a recent and now unprecedented spike in COVID-19 infections.
“The original plan was to get everybody back into training starting today (Monday). But with the health crisis raging, we are now thinking of accommodating our athletes by batches and by sport,’’ said Commissioner Ramon Fernandez of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).
Team Philippines intends to send 626 athletes from 29 out of the 30 sports that will be played in the 31st SEA Games in Hanoi, Vietnam, on May 12-23, the bulk of which will train inside the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex (RMSC) in Manila and Philsports Complex in Pasig City.
Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Rep. Abraham “Bambol’’ Tolentino said it’s up to the PSC to come up with a Plan B, but added the Olympic body will do what it can to address the situation.
“Most probably [athletes will train] outside NCR (National Capital Region) and Calabarzon, as long as the area is under [alert] level 2,’’ said Tolentino.
Philippine Sports Institute National Training Director Marc Edward Velasco said the PSC would finalize the protocols for athletes going into training bubbles, where self quarantine and a negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction swab test are required prior to entry.
According to Fernandez, also the Team Philippines chef de mission to the Hanoi SEA Games, the RMSC can initially accommodate athletes from wushu, wrestling, judo, taekwondo and lawn tennis.
He added Philsports could host the full bubble training for swimming, athletics, fencing and combat sports while other contact sports such as boxing, karate, muay thai and kickboxing are ready to resume their workouts in Baguio City and Benguet.
Fernandez, who emphasized that the bubble protocol under alert level 3 will be strictly implemented, said he would likewise open the budgetary constraints that the delegation to the Games would be facing with the POC.
“After our (PSC) board meeting tomorrow, I have to discuss the available budget with the POC within the week and ask for their suggestions,’’ said Fernandez.
The Department of Budget and Management has allocated only P50 million for the training and actual participation of Team Philippines to the 11-nation sportsfest and P70 million for the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, in September. “I’m confident that we can find a way to address the problem,’’ said Tolentino, expressing his desire for a strong finish in Hanoi after the nation captured the overall title as host of the 2019 SEA Games.
Fernandez initially suggested that medalists be prioritized in the delegation for the SEA Games before accommodating athletes who have yet to reach the medal podium in the previous edition of the Games. INQ