FOLLOWING Malacanang instructions due to the widespread global outbreak of the deadly novel coronavirus that originated in China, Philippine Sports Commission chairman Butch Ramirez announced yesterday that the agency is postponing the National Sports Summit at the end of this month and the Philippine National Games supposed to be held in May.
Ramirez also said that the PSC board passed a resolution last Wednesday strongly urging the Philippine Sports Association of Disabled Athletes headed by Mike Barredo to postpone anew the 10th Asean Paralympic Games that has been reset to March 20 to 28 in the wake of the nCoV epidemic. The games were originally scheduled to be held last December after the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
The PSC will hand the P450 million budget as well as being the lead agency to run the games that will be held mainly inside the Clark Freeport Zone in Angeles City, Pampanga and the New Clark City Aquatic Center and Athletic Stadium in Capas, Tarlac.
“It’s only common sense that we do this,” Ramirez noted in a press conference held yesterday at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum attended by Commissioners Ramon Fernandez, Arnold Agustin, Charles Maxey, PSC national training director Marc Velasco and Barredo.
“I hate to disappoint Mr. Barredo because this would be the second time we would be postponing the Asean Para Games, but at the same time we have to protect and preserve the health of our athletes at all cost,” he said.
“We will respect the position of the national government and PSC because this is a health issue beyond our control,” said Barredo, who failed to hide his disappointment on the possibility that the meet would be postponed again.
“Our responsibility is to have the best interest of our national para athletes as well as the para athletes in Southeast Asia,” he added.
He said that he would leave for Bangkok, Thailand tomorrow to meet with the head of the Asean Paralympic Games Federation and convey the sentiments of the PSC.
“But we will leave the decision to the head of our Asean Paralympic Federation on whether to reset the Games,” Barredo said.
He had expressed hope the games would be held before the World Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan in August.
Barredo said preparations for the ASEAN Para Games are still ongoing. He, in fact, came from a meeting of the local organizing committee at the PSC administration building just beside the Rizal Memorial Coliseum before attending the briefing.
Ramirez said he would also get in touch with the Philippine Badminton Federation, which will be hosting the Team Asia Badminton Championships next week at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum, to discuss the fate of the event.
Among the participating teams in the tournament, an Olympic qualifying competition, are coming from China and Hong Kong.
President Rodrigo Duterte has announced a comprehensive travel ban on travelers foreigners coming from mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau to stem the spread of the virus in the Philippines.
Ramirez said aside from the scrapping of the PNG and Sports Summit, the PSC will forego seminars and events that will gather more than 40 people, with the exception of the regular flag-raising ceremony held Monday mornings just outside the administration building.
Velasco said they are constantly monitoring the health and hygiene of the athletes and coaches in the national pool, providing them with health masks as a precaution against the virus.