Fernandez, POC eye resumption of athletes’ training for SEA games

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Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) commissioner Ramon Fernandez said on Friday he is discussing with the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) about possibly resuming the training for national athletes who will compete in the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.

“As the CDM (chef de mission) and a PSC commissioner, I am as interested as everyone for our teams to resume formal training and we are working on it,” Fernandez said.

Athletes from four sports have been given the green light to push through with their training this month amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic ahead of the competitions they would join.

The Gilas Pilipinas Men were the first to begin their practice in the buildup for the third window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers.

Despite needing to give up the hosting rights for the matches for Group A, where Gilas Men are placed, and Group C due to the travel ban in place to curb the spread of the more transmissive Covid-19 variant from the United Kingdom, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) assured that the national team will still be in action next month, even if it needs to travel to Doha.

“We’re confident that our Gilas Pilipinas Men’s team will be ready for competition come February as the SBP continues to work with the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) to seek their guidance about the protocols necessary for our team to travel to and from Doha,” SBP president Al Panlilio said on Thursday night.

On the other hand, athletes from three combat sports – karatedo, taekwondo, and boxing – have likewise pushed through with their training ahead of the qualifiers for the Tokyo Olympics.

The PSC said the training for the Olympic qualifiers is “at the forefront of efforts at this time.”

“We only have IATF go-signal to resume training for the Olympics as of now,” PSC national training director Marc Velasco said.

These national athletes are inside a training bubble at the Inspire Sports Academy in Calamba.

“The training must be in a bubble setup, especially for contact sports,” Velasco added. “We want to field a competitive team for all scheduled games. We know how important it is to resume formal training. However, we also find ourselves in unique times at the moment and we work on what we can and are allowed to do.”

Most of the national athletes from these sports are expected to be called up anew for the SEA Games training.

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