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Sports events likely still not allowed in PH even in GCQ

The AFC Cup match between Ceres Negros and Bali United was among the last sporting events that took place before President Rodrigo announced an enhanced community quarantine in Luzon. Dennis Acosta (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--Even if Metro Manila is likely to be only placed under a general community quarantine (GCQ) starting May 16, it is still not expected to host a single sporting event anytime soon.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said on Tuesday during a virtual press briefing that sports tournaments will likely remain suspended in provinces placed under GCQ, which are essentially those that will not be under an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) from May 1-15.

Roque, also the spokesman for the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-EID), said that the said group recommended to President Rodrigo Duterte that such activities will remain on hold even during the GCQ as well as individual and team practices and the reopening of fitness gyms.

Roque added that the said recommendation is pending Duterte's approval alongside the proposed reopening of some sectors during the ECQ and GCQ.

The presidential spokesman further implied that sports leagues can resume play once the GCQ has been lifted, that is, when the infection rate of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) slows down.

As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, 7,958 people are tested positive for SARS-COV-2, the coronavirus behind COVID-19, with 181 new cases confirmed. Nine hundred seventy-five patients have already recovered.

This means that the PFL, which announced that it is looking to open the season by May after two postponements, may have to wait a little longer before it can finally start its new season.

On the other hand, the MPBL may also need to stay in the waiting game before it can finally conclude the division finals.

The cities of San Juan and Davao, which will host the two Game 3's of the national semifinals, are under those areas whose ECQ periods have been extended to May 15 following an announcement from Roque on Friday, and even if they will be "downgraded" to a GCQ, they still cannot host the rubber matches.

However, Commissioner Kenneth Duremdes assured that the league will resume play the moment sporting events are allowed to take place again.

Season shutdown?

Also pending is the PBA, which only played one match this season prior to its March 11 postponement.

However, Commissioner Willie Marcial rued that a full cancellation of the season is now possible if the COVID-19 situation goes more awry past midyear.

In a report by Reynald Magallon of Courtside Philippines on Sunday night, Marcial said that he is not ruling out abruptly calling it a year should the health scare worsens beyond September.

This scenario is not anymore new as the Netherlands' top flight football league, the Eredivisie, already cancelled its season last week.

France's own top division football, Ligue 1, is also looming to be cancelled as Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced that sporting events can only resume by the said month.

Marcial, however, remains hopeful that the lockdown will be lifted as soon as possible in time for possibly resuming play in the top tier cagefest by July.

The PBA board of governors will convene anytime from April 30 to discuss the next plan of action following the ECQ extension.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno