PHILIPPINE Sports Commission chairman Butch Ramirez yesterday proposed a conservative approach to the resumption of actual training of Olympic qualifiers and aspirants in combat sports, leaving it to their respective National Sports Associations as to where and when they can do these workouts.
“I look at this in a conservative way. It will all depend on the NSAs concerned to decide when they want their athletes to resume actual training,” Ramirez said during the online session of the Philippine Sports Association forum.
He said the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex and the Philsports Complex in Pasig City might be available by the first week of September after undergoing thorough disinfection should the NSAs of karate, fencing, taekwondo and boxing decide to send back their athletes to the gym.
“We might have the RMSC and Philsports Complex ready by Sept. 1 since acting PSC executive director Atty. Guillermo Iroy Jr. and Philippine Sports Institute executive director Marc Velasco have supervised the disinfection of these facilities,” Ramirez said.
The PSC, Games and Amusements Board, the Department of Health and the Inter-Agency Task Force in charge of the COVID-19 pandemic signed a Joint Administrative Order late last month permitting actual practices for clubs in the Philippine Basketball Association, Philippines Football League and the Olympic qualifiers and hopefuls.
But this was postponed when the national government placed the National Capital Region and the neighboring provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal under modified enhanced community quarantine until yesterday, Aug. 18, to give overworked health workers in these areas a breather.
The earlier plan was to have the national athletes train in isolated “bubbles,” with taekwondo, fencing and karate athletes undergoing training at the Philsports Complex while the boxers, including Olympic-bound Felix Eumir Marcial and Irish Magno, could return to the Association of Boxing Alliances of the Philippines gym inside the RMSC.
These athletes have been content in having physical fitness and conditioning workouts on their own and online, some of them conducted by the PSC, and have been angling to resume face-to-face practices to hone their skills and timing.
Ramirez stressed during the forum sponsored by Pagcor, Smart, Milo, Amelie Hotel, San Miguel Corp., Brasca Restaurant and Go for Gold that the PSC will closely monitor these athletes once they are allowed to resume training.
“All of them must undergo swab tests and test negative while we will be assigning medical personnel to monitor these athletes once they are allowed actual training at our facilities,” he said, adding the PSC would ensure health guidelines would be strictly followed.
He said he would welcome the initiative of the NSAs to set up their own training camps as long they are properly monitored by the POC and PSC.
“In the meantime, I would urge these national athletes to be creative and resilient in keeping in shape while preparing for their opportunity to get back to actual training as they look forward to qualifying for the Tokyo Olympic Games,” Ramirez said.
In an uncommon display of compassion, Ramirez announced that he and Commissioners Ramon Fernandez, Charles Maxey, Celia Kiram and Arnold Agustin have decided to retain the services of the PSC’s close to 300 contractual workers despite the financial crunch it is facing.
“It would not be right and unfair for us to terminate them amid this pandemic. What will they live on during these hard times?” Ramirez pointed out. “As long as I am PSC chairman we will keep them as we are able to do so.”