IATF gives go-signal for national athletes to train in 'bubble'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 15 2020 01:12 PM | Updated as of Dec 15 2020 02:07 PM

MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) National athletes who are vying for berths in the Tokyo Olympics are now allowed to resume their training in a "bubble" setting.

This, as per the latest resolution of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, announced by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Tuesday.

The IATF approved the recommendations of its Technical Working Group, including the request of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) for the resumption of the training of national athletes who are still looking to qualify for the Summer Games in Tokyo next year. 

The request of the POC was endorsed by the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC). 

The PSC has already put together a plan for the country's Olympic hopefuls to train at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna, which has already served as the site of a couple of successful "bubbles." 

Inspire hosted the training camp of the TNT Tropang Giga ahead of the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup, as well as the 2020 Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 Presidents' Cup last November.

"For this purpose, the Philippine Sports Commission, the Games and Amusements Board (GAB), and the Department of Health (DOH) are directed to amend their issuance accordingly," the IATF said in its resolution.

The PSC, GAB, and DOH signed a joint administrative order (JAO) in July, governing the conduct of sports during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. The GAB handled the professional sports, while amateur sports were under the PSC. Initially, the JAO only allowed for professional sports to resume practices and competition. 

"The conduct of the training in a 'bubble-type' setting shall be made in coordination with the Regional Task Force where the training shall be conducted and the local government unit with the jurisdiction of the proposed venue," the IATF also said.

Last week, PSC chairman William "Butch" Ramirez laid down 10 conditions to allow national athletes and coaches to resume actual training, which he said will be stricter than the health and safety protocols of the recently concluded 2020 PBA Philippine Cup.

Four Filipino athletes have already qualified for the Tokyo Games, which was rescheduled for 2021 due to global COVID-19 pandemic.

Pole vaulter EJ Obiena, boxer Eumir Marcial, and gymnast Carlos Yulo are all training abroad. Only boxer Irish Magno remains in the Philippines. 

The Philippines still has plenty of athletes who are vying to qualify for the Tokyo Games, including 2019 world boxing champion Nesthy Petecio and a host of gold medalists from the Southeast Asian Games. 

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