THE Education Department is mulling the possibility of organizing a “virtual” Palarong Pambansa, the national games for student athletes, with a limited number of events and participants in the wake of the pandemic situation in the country.
“We’re hoping, we’re planning to have a ‘virtual’ Palarong Pambansa, although it won’t be a full spectrum of events as the original Palaro,” DepEd Director Joel Eristain, a member of the Palaro secretariat, said yesterday in the Philippine Sportswriters Association online forum.
“It is still an uphill struggle for us kasi maya’t maya nagbabago ‘yung situation surrounding us,” Eristain added.
The meet was canceled last year, the first time in 15 years, due to the virus crisis since the event could become a “super spreader” with the huge number of athletes and officials involved.
Eristain said they are looking at disciplines that could possibly be held online and on video such as the forms in combat sports as well as the timed or measured disciplines done individually such as swimming and track and field.
Eristain said the fluctuating conditions posed by the virus make it hard for them to decide on the actual number of sports and athletes who could compete in a virtual competition.
“Nagbabago ‘yung mga health protocols natin. Dati bawal ‘yung below 18 years old, tapos pinayagan from 15 to 18,” he said. “Briefly pinayagang (lumabas) ‘yung 10 to 14 pero binawi ni Presidente Duterte because of the entry of the new COVID-19 variant from other countries.
“Primordial pa rin ang health and safety of our children, and on the part of our Palarong Pambansa and our student athletes.”
Eristain added the actual Palaro set-up would also hinge on the “the rollout of the vaccines nationwide. Kung magbabago naman, puwede magbaba ng edad sa mga bata.”
In the event the Palaro goes virtual, “we have already identified what sports will be held.
And likely it will be for 15 to 18 years old. I just cannot reveal what they are until they are approved by the Palaro board,” he said.
The annual games was revived in 1974 with Bacolod City as the host and continued until 2003 before it was cancelled in 2004 due to the national polls. It resumed in 2005 in the city of Iloilo.
Davao City hosted the 2019 edition but the 2020 edition set in Marikina was cancelled due to the pandemic.