ATHLETICS chief Philip Ella Juico said yesterday they have rescheduled the National Open track and field championships to April 1 to 3 at the New Clark City Athletic Stadium in Capas City, Tarlac.
Juico said he conveyed this decision in a meeting last week with Philippine Sports Commission chairman Butch Ramirez, PSC national training director and Bases Conversion and Development Authority president Vince Dizon, a key member of the government’s Inter-Agency Task Force in charge of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The only thing that is holding the National Open back is the permit of the IATF because we will have two components: training and competition,” Juico explained of the trackfest originally scheduled in mid-December.
He had planned to have the national team train for one month inside the La Salle campus in Canlubang, Laguna before the event.
He said the team will move inside the NCC bubble in Tarlac by Feb. 1 “just after the Christmas holidays” and stay there to live and train for two months before they see action in the three-day event.
“This will be a true bubble since our athletes will just have to walk across from their dormitories to the stadium where they will train and compete,” he said, referring to the venue of the 30th Southeast Asian Games athletics meet and the nearby Athletes’ Village.
“We will be applying the National Open with the Asian Athletics Association as an Olympic qualifier so other athletes in Southeast Asia can come over to see action,” Juico said, adding that only 20 national athletes will be able to participate in the meet considering the present conditions.
“Some of our younger athletes won’t be able to come with us while those in the military will also be unable to take part. It will be also inconvenient for those who are based and training abroad to come over to the country due to the present conditions,” he pointed out.
Currently training in various parts of the US are 30th SEA Games gold medalists and Olympic track hopefuls Eric Shawn Cray and Kristina Knott, shot put specialist William Morrison III and pole vaulter Natalie Uy as well as 30th SEA Games silver medalist Carter Lilly.
The country’s first Olympic qualifier, pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena, who is currently training at the World Athletics training camp in Formia, Italy, is also unlikely to compete in the National Open, according Juico, a former PSC chairman.
He noted that someone like Cebu-based marathon runner and 2017 SEA Games gold medalist Mary Joy Tabal would need a month before entering the bubble.
“She would have to stay in Manila for 14 days of quarantine and another 14 days of quarantine in Tarlac. So that is a month lost,” Juico said.
Meanwhile, 30th SEA Games women’s marathon champion Christine Hallasgo, who is now training in Bukidnon, will be sent to compete next month in the Singapore Marathon, Juico said.