How to provide athletes adequate training despite pandemic

What would’ve been the country’s participation in the postponed Tokyo Olympic Games had Sen. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go not intervened in the confusing situation where Filipino Olympic qualifiers could not even train due to the total lockdown prompted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

At a time when everybody is confined at home, Sen. Bong came from nowhere to call on sports leaders; they, too, have the responsibility to prepare our athletes in carrying the country’s flag pursuant to the mandate of no less than the Constitution.

Section 17 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution titled: Declaration of Principles and State Policies, provides that: “The state SHALL GIVE PRIORITY (emphasis this OUTSIDER) to education, science and technology, arts, culture and SPORTS to foster patriotism, and nationalism, accelerate social progress and promote total human liberation and development.”

Section 13, on the other hand, mandates the state to “recognize the vital role of the youth in nation-building and shall promote and protect their physical, moral, intellectual, and social well-being. It shall inculcate in the youth patriotism and nationalism, and encourage their involvement in public and civic affairs.”

Do I sound like a broken record? How many times have I implored these Constitutional provisions in several stories I have written?

Maybe yes, but I’m glad somebody like Sen. Bong understands as he called on sports leaders to provide athletes adequate training in their quest for honors for the country in the immediate international competitions the Philippines is committed to participate, including the Olympics.

And I’m sure our Olympic qualifiers, four so far — boxers Eumir Marcial and Irish Magno, pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena and gymnast Carlos Yulo — welcome this “intrusion” coming from the chairman of the Senate sports and youth committee.

And those no less than a dozen yet to make the trip to Tokyo in 2021, like weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz and fighters Nesthy Petecio, who both are almost there; Carlo Paalam and Ian Clark Bautista and others’ both Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman William “Butch” Ramirez and Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) head Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino are counting as would-be bets.

“Marami namang mga pasilidad na pwedeng gamitin for training basta monitored and supervised ito ng PSC at POC,” Go even assured as quoted by The Manila Times story that appeared in this same section on Saturday, June 13.

And there are many ways to achieve the desired purpose like Identifying and selecting sports; which athletes could train individually, observing all required protocols — proper hygiene, no body contact (for physical distancing) and daily temperature screening.

The POC and the PSC can also identify and select the deserving national athletes and coaches who will be allowed to undergo special training and physical conditioning on specific days, alternatively with other athletes to minimize crowding the venues.

They should be given special IATF — Inter-Agency Task Force for the management of Emerging Infectious Diseases— passes to commute to their training venues, which should be secured, regularly sanitized, and exclusively for their use.

Another suggestion was guidelines must be formulated and approved to ensure safety while conversing during instructions/briefing, eating, and using of comfort and dressing rooms. Use of personal sports equipment and uniforms must be encouraged, and these not shared with others.

These proposals, which the POC and PSC can ponder on, by the way, aren’t mine. It came from somebody who claims to be a “friend” of sports who doesn’t want to be identified for reasons known only to him.

As former POC president and PSC commissioner Celso “Cito” Daytir once said: “National athletes are also our sports ‘frontliners’ who serve our country in their own battleground.”

Date: June 14, 2020 | By: Eddie Alinea | Newspaper: Manila Times | Source: