THE Philippine Sports Commission went the extra mile so it could cover all the bases and ensure the health and safety of national athletes who entered the Inspire Academy bubble in Calamba, Laguna over the weekend and resume actual training for their Olympic qualifiers.
“We have prepared and thought of all possible scenarios for their health and safety,” Philippine Sports Institute national training director Marc Velasco said yesterday during the Philippine Sportswriters Association online forum.
Joining Velasco in the public sports program backed by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., San Miguel, Smart, Milo, Go for Gold, Amelie Restaurant and Brasca Restaurant was karate chief Ricky Lim, who has sent a delegation of four athletes and two coaches to the training bubble.
“We would like to thank PSC Chairman Butch Ramirez and Commissioner Ramon Fernandez, who is in charge of combat sports, for giving us the opportunity so our karatekas can resume training for their Olympic qualifying tournament,” Lim said.
Led by 30th Southeast Asian Games gold medalist Jamie Christine Lim, the national karate squad includes Jason Macaalay, Ivan Christopher Agustin, Sharief Afif plus coach Sonny Montalvo and another coach, according to Lim.
He said that overseas-based Olympic hopefuls Junna Tsukii and Joane Orbon, who have been able to do actual workouts in Japan and the US, respectively, were advised not to come to the country due to the 14-day quarantine requirement before they can enter the Calamba bubble.
“Both Junna and Joane will likely join us in our overseas training in Istanbul, Turkey while our Turkish national coach Okay Arpa is just waiting to get his travel visa and get to the Philippines,” according to Lim.
Velasco cited the national karate squad’s discipline in entering the bubble, adding that “we are about 99 percent complete at the Inspire Academy with a couple of athletes set to join us soon.”
He stressed the strict protocols laid down by the PSC, including swab tests for all participants before they can enter the bubble and another set of tests seven days once they are there.
“They will have to isolate themselves until they are cleared, after which they will have another swab tests after seven days. If they remain clear then there will be periodic tests after 14 days,” Velasco said of the three-month training bubble pegged by the PSC to cost P15 million.
He said karate, taekwondo and boxing athletes will have separate training areas while workouts at the Inspire Academy fitness and conditioning gym will be scheduled separately so there won’t be mingling among them.
Velasco said the PSC has provided a support staff of 10 personnel composed of therapists, nurses and masseuses to look after the welfare of the bubble participants.
As additional safeguards, he said there won’t be any interaction with the Gilas Pilipinas cagers, who are also in the Inspire Academy bubble for their build-up to next month’s FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers in Angeles, Pampanga.
“Inspire Academy management has set up barriers between our athletes and Gilas Pilipinas. There won’t be interaction between our athletes and them,” Velasco stressed.
Velasco and Lim expressed hopes the Tokyo Olympic Games would push through in July despite the pandemic.
“These are things that are out of our control but we are hopeful the Olympic Games will push through in Tokyo,” Velasco said.