MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippine Superliga (PSL) announced Tuesday that it has received approval from the Department of Health (DOH) to resume training when quarantine protocols in Metro Manila and nearby provinces are relaxed.
PSL chairman Philip Ella Juico said that as per a DOH letter dated July 23, their club teams can start practicing under the general community quarantine, where only five players would be allowed along with a skeletal workforce of up to 10 persons.
In the letter, DOH Assistant Secretary Nestor Santiago approved the health and safety guidelines submitted by the PSL, while also adding some recommendations.
"I am pleased to inform you that the health and safety protocols that we submitted to the Department of Health had been approved with some recommendations," Juico said in a statement.
"This is really a big development as we are the first volleyball league to be allowed to return to training. We assured the government that we will do everything to follow the protocols and make sure that training and conditioning sessions would be safe and healthy for everyone," he added.
As a commercial league, the PSL is not covered by the recent joint administrative order (JAO) signed by the DOH, the Games and Amusements Board, and the Philippine Sports Commission that governs the conduct of physical activities and sports during the time of COVID-19.
Juico said the clubs are not required to do swab testing, as women's volleyball is not as physical as professional basketball, football and boxing -- which all received the go-signal to resume practices, thanks to the JAO.
Swab testing can still be done in accordance to the discretion of the teams.
The clubs are required to coordinate with the various local government units where they will conduct their training sessions, to ensure proper monitoring and compliance. Additionally, they have to appoint a medical liaison that will monitor the movements of players and coaches.
These medical liaisons are required to report to Dr. Raul Alcantara, the league's head of the medical oversight committee, to ensure that all DOH-approved guidelines are being followed.
"These liaisons would be the one who will monitor the movement of the players and log their observations in a timesheet that would be submitted to the league's medical oversight committee," said Juico. "We will assure that everything will be kept in private in accordance to the confidentiality clause between doctor and patients."
Metro Manila and neighboring provinces were placed under modified enhanced community quarantine from August 4 to 18, due to rising cases of COVID-19.
After one or two months of training, Juico plans to ask the DOH's permission for the start of its All-Filipino Conference.
"For now, we have to make sure that all protocols would be followed and trainings would be safe for everyone, especially to the athletes," he said.
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