AND now the good news.
The Joint Administrative Order (JAO) prepared by the Games and Amusements Board (GAB), Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and Department of Health (DOH) was finally approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).
“Finally, the wait is over-- the JAO has been signed,” said GAB Chairman Abraham "Baham" Mitra in a statement to the media yesterday.
Mitra said all GAB-regulated sports, such as professional basketball, football, boxing, MMA, muay thai, among others can resume trainings effective immediately provided that the provisions of the GAB-PSC-DOH Joint Administrative Order (JAO) are met.
This will be the first time that professional sports will be allowed to resume trainings since the five-month lockdown imposed by the government to fight the spread of the deadly coronavirus disease.
“Last month, I and Commissioners Ed Trinidad and Mar Masanguid approached the IATF and DOH to ask for their guidance on how to safely reboot the operations of professional sports in the country. Finally, the wait is over-- the JAO has been signed,” said Mitra.
“PSC Chairman Butch Ramirez and DOH Secretary Duque and I have already signed the joint administrative order. We are so happy and excited that finally after more than four months our professional football and basketball players can now shake off some pounds they may have acquired during the quarantine.
We expect them to practice maybe for a month or two to be match fit and hopefully when quarantine levels go down, they may be allowed to eventually play. It is effective immediately,” added Mitra.
The three-time lawmaker from Palawan said the JAO enumerates the allowable professional sports activities per risk severity level: in high risk areas ( ECQ and MECQ), only non-contact sports or individual exercises shall be allowed; in moderate risk areas (GCQ and MGCQ with modifiers).
Championship and non-championship combat sports fights, such as boxing, MMA, muay thai scheduled abroad involving a GAB-licensed athlete may be permitted, according to Mitra.
“With regard to football and basketball, maximum of five players may be allowed to resume trainings in GCQ areas, while maximum of 10 players may be allowed to resume physical conditioning activities in MGCQ with modifiers areas.”
Boxing trainings are allowed in moderate areas provided that the fighters shall have no COVID-19 symptoms in the past 14 days; in low risk areas (MGCQ without modifiers), practice and actual games may be permitted provided that the provisions of the JAO must be complied with.
The JAO, however, contains a penalty clause; thus, fines and legal actions may be imposed for any willful violations of the provisions of the JAO.
Earlier, Mitra GAB commended the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) and the Philippine Football League (PFL) for their protocols.
“Maganda yun presentation ng dalawang grupo sa IATF kaya para na din itong naging role models sa ibang mga sports associations,” said Mitra.
Among those who participated in the weekly GAB session aimed at addressing the concerns of professional athletes and stakeholders were PFF secretary-general Atty. Edwin Gastanes, PFL commissioner Coco Torre and PBA deputy commissioner and operations manager Eric Castro.
Atty. Gastanes assured Mitra that the GAB regulating officials will be given access to the livestreaming videos of physical conditioning activities of the PFL in Carmona, Cavite.