MANILA, Philippines -- The UAAP is planning to open its basketball competition for Season 84 by February 2022, with volleyball to start after the Holy Week.
UAAP Season 84 president Nonong Calanog of De La Salle University said Wednesday that they are waiting for approval from the Commission on Higher Education (CHED), the Department of Health (DOH), and the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for their student-athletes to resume training in a bubble set-up.
"Our projection is to return to competition by mid-February 2022," Calanog said during a press conference with the CHED, where UAAP student-athletes received COVID-19 vaccines.
The UAAP cancelled its second semester sports for Season 82 because of the pandemic and did not hold an 83rd season.
"As far as the UAAP Board is concerned, depending on the approval for the return to training, we're projecting a start for basketball hopefully by February," Calanog said. "But that will depend on when we can get our athletes back to training, because we want to make sure they are ready for competition."
UAAP coaches have requested at least three months of training for the basketball players, according to Calanog.
"Our hope is that approval for return to training would be soon, so that we can get them into the bubble and start training by November 1," he added. "They have about three-and-a-half months to train and get back into competition shape."
Meanwhile, they are hoping to start the volleyball tournaments after Holy Week.
According to Calanog, all of the UAAP's basketball and volleyball athletes are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and most of the UAAP member-schools are already retro-fitted in preparation for the return to training of student-athletes.
"They're ready to come back," Calanog said of the UAAP student-athletes. "We're just waiting for permission to return to training."
UAAP student-athletes from other sports were vaccinated on Wednesday at the CHED auditorium, with stakeholders stressing the importance of vaccination in the resumption of sporting activities.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, amateur and grassroots sports have been suspended with only professional leagues given the go-signal to hold games.
"Isa sa pinakamalaking casualty ng pandemic ay sports programs and the sector of sports in our country," noted Senator Sherwin Gatchalian. "Isa lang po ang solusyon para makabalik tayo sa ating sporting events -- vaccination lang po."
COVID-19 National Task Force chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez, for his part, stressed that the vaccination program will pave the way for student-athletes to make a safe return to training.
As for making COVID-19 vaccines a requirement for student-athletes, Calanog said such a mandate will not be necessary in the UAAP.
"As far as we're concerned, we don't even have to ask that because for volleyball and basketball, all our athletes are fully vaccinated," he assured.
CHED will hold a vaccination drive for NCAA student-athletes next week. The NCAA cancelled Season 95 in March 2020, but held a limited number of events for Season 96, including online chess and taekwondo.