MANILA, Philippines—Professional sports leagues in the Philippines have slowly returned to competition with the PBA, Chooks to Go Pilipinas 3×3, and the Philippines Football League already concluding their 2020 seasons.
With the success of the three leagues and the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines seemingly getting clearer, the Games and Amusements Board stressed that active play must still be done in confined environments.
GAB chairman Abraham “Baham” Mitra said that professional sports leagues are still required to set up a bubble should they return to active competition as it is the mandate of the Inter-Agency Task Force for Emerging Infectious Disease.
“One famous coach from the PBA asked why should they not be allowed from playing outside of a bubble even though there’s a vaccine? Well that may come in the next amendment, but for now we have to go with the bubble concept,” said Mitra in Filipino.
“We don’t want them to get into accidents and when they get home their families might get infected. That could put the blame on their sports.”
The PBA, Chooks to Go, and PFL had their own bubble environments in Pampanga, Laguna, and Cavite and have carried on with their tournaments relatively smoothly.
Another league that’s about to set up a bubble is the Premier Volleyball League with Inspire Sports Academy seen as the tournament venue.
Mitra added that his office is still working on if Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League will be allowed to play as the term “professional athletes” is still being deliberated under IATF rules.
The MPBL is considered as a club tournament and not a professional outfit unlike the PBA or Chooks to Go 3×3.
“That’s still being discussed, including the definition of ‘professional athlete,” said Mitra. “If you’re receiving money in the form of salaries or allowances but you’re not playing as a national athlete then you’re a professional. I hope that the IATF eventually adopts this.”
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