PH sports at a standstill

February 14, 2020
Abraham ‘Bambol’ Tolentino
Abraham ‘Bambol’ Tolentino

No thanks to the novel coronavirus, Philippine sports has ground to a screeching halt.

Unlike in the previous SARS and MERS outbreaks during which  the sporting show went on, this virus - although it originated in Wuhan, China - has disrupted or cancelled many of sporting events inside and outside the country.

With the Department of Health advising to avoid coming up with large gatherings to prevent the spread of the virus that already infected more than 60,000 people in China and 25 other countries, sports does not matter at this point.

The health of the athletes and the public comes first.

"The Philippine Olympic Committee stands behind government in its precautionary measure of advising everyone to desist from organizing, participating or attending events where big crowds are expected," said POC President Abraham Tolentino in a statement.

"The Philippine Sports Commission’s parallel declaration cancelling or suspending sports activities in order to mitigate the possible spread of the Novel Coronavirus in the country, is also shared by the POC," he added.

Among competitions which were moved are the 10th ASEAN Para Games, which is actually postponed for the second time, and the PSC Children's Games.

"We must always put the safety of athletes, coaches, officials and spectators at the very top of our priorities," said Tolentino.

"We therefore urge all National Sports Associations and other groups associated with the POC, to heed the call for prudence and await official announcements from appropriate agencies with regards this issue," he added.

"We also enjoin everyone to take the necessary precautions amidst this growing health concern."

When the coronavirus outbreak was starting to unravel, the Tokyo Olympics boxing qualifiers which was originally scheduled this month in Wushu, was postponed and moved to Amman, Jordan.  Some of the top Filipino boxers are vying for Olympic berths.

The World Athletics Indoor Championships in Nanjing, China, where some of the best Philippine tracksters are set to compete, will not push through on March 13-15.

In basketball, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas yesterday said that the Philippines' first FIBA Asia qualifier game against Thailand on Thursday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum had been postponed.

“At 7:55 p.m. (last Thursday), SBP received word from FIBA Asia postponing the Philippines game vs Thailand on Thursday, February 20, 2020 in Smart Araneta in consideration of the Philippine Department of Health advisory against organizing events with mass attendance” as a precaution re threat of the corona virus epidemic,” said the federation in a statement.

The Gilas Pilipinas’ FIBA Asia Cup qualifier game against Indonesia on Feb. 23 on the road, however, will push through.

FIBA Asia announced through its Twitter yesterday that it has postponed three games in the qualifiers’ first window set next week due to the outbreak.

Aside from the Philippines-Thailand tiff, also called off are the matches between Japan and China on Feb.  21, and China and Malaysia on the Feb. 23.

The Philippine Basketball Association earlier in the week rescheduled the opening of its new season from March 1 to March 8 at the Big Dome.

The PBA D-League inaugurals, which was supposed to open last Thursday, has been reset to March 2 at the Paco Arena.

"It's a preventive measure against nCoV. It's now in place and will be implemented. The safety of our fans, teams, players and officials remain to be our utmost priority," said PBA commissioner Willie Marcial.

With travel restrictions that have been enforced in several countries including the Philippines, the ASEAN Basketball League earlier this month announcedthe rescheduling of 15 games in the regular season.

Among the games affected is the match-up between San Miguel Alab Pilipinas and the Macau Black Bears, which was supposed to be played tomorrow at the Sta. Rosa Multi-Purpose Sports Complex in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.

The teams which were mostly hit by the rescheduling aside from the Black Bears are the Macau Wolf Warriors and Hong Kong Eastern.

The league, in a statement, said that it is evaluating the situation on a day-to-day basis as it values the utmost safety of its teams, players, game personnel, and most especially its fans.

A revised schedule will be released by the ABL once the situation with the novel coronavirus improves and the travel restrictions are lifted.

Heeding the government’s health advisory, volleyball club league the Philippine Superliga has postponed its Fans Day originally set tomorrow, following the global outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

PSL president Philip Ella Juico yesterday said they are putting premium over the safety and welfare of the athletes, coaches and spectators and will reset the Fans Day which was initially scheduled at the Activity Center of Robinson’s Place in Ermita, Manila to a later date.

Reigning champion Petron and other heavy contenders like Cignal, Chery Tiggo, F2 Logistics and Generika-Ayala were supposed to give fans a preview of their respective rosters for the import-flavored Grand Prix on Feb. 22

New-look Sta. Lucia, PLDT Home Fibr and Marinerang Pilipina were also to reveal new recruits.

“The number of those infected by the novel coronavirus is spiking while governments of affected countries are trying to contain its spread,” Juico said.

“With this, it is only logical, and responsible, for us to cancel our Fans Day this Sunday to keep any untoward incident from happening. Although we want it to go on as planned, we have to put special premium on the safety and welfare of our athletes, coaches, officials, fans and other stakeholders,” he added.

Collegiate leagues University Athletic Association of the Philippines and National Collegiate Athletic Association has FROM PAGE 16
already halted their respective competitions.

After yesterday's conclusion of the four-day fencing championships at the Paco Arena, the UAAP has postponed the opening of the centerpiece second semester sport of volleyball at the Mall of Asia Arena, as well all of its other events until further to ensure the safety of the student-athletes and the public.

"The University Athletic Association of the Philippines upholds, in the highest regard, the well- being, health and safety of the League’s community - players, coaches, students, their families and fans in general," said the league's statement co-signed by UAAP Season 82 president Em Fernandez of host Ateneo and executive director Rebo Saguisag last Wednesday.

"In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, the UAAP, after thorough deliberation by the Board of Trustees and the Board of Managing Directors, have come to a decision to postpone all sporting events starting Saturday, 15 February."

Also shelved are the men's football tournament which was set to begin tomorrow at the Rizal Memorial Stadium, softball tournament on Monday and baseball tournament on Feb. 19 at the Rizal Memorial Baseball Stadium, athletics on Feb 19-23 at the Philsports oval, and judo in late February.

The final two matchdays of the high school beach volleyball at Sands SM By The Bay, as well as the high school football final at the Rizal Memorial Stadium and remainder of high school basketball tournaments at the Filoil Flying V Centre will also be moved to a later date.

The NCAA has indefinitely postponed all volleyball matches at the San Juan arena and other events in the senior division starting yesterday.

“NCAA is temporarily suspending the games for Senior Division starting 14 February 2020 as a precautionary measure on the COVID 2019,” said Management Committee chairman Peter Cayco of host Arellano University in a statement last Thursday.

Resumption of events will be announced at a later date.

The league’s decision came a week after its suspension of all juniors competitions.