MANILA – The Games and Amusements Board (GAB) has submitted the “new normal” protocols in team practices for three sports to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).

GAB Chairman Baham Mitra confirmed the development of the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Wednesday night.

“We finished presenting to them by around 3:30 [p.m.],” Mitra said via a phone call.

The three sports that submitted their practice protocols are basketball, football, and boxing.

The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), the Philippines Football League (PFL), and the Chooks-To-Go Pilipinas 3×3 have drafted their respective protocols last month in hopes that their member clubs can return to practice very soon, the first step for them to begin or resume their season during the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

Regarding boxing, Mitra bared that GAB itself made the protocols with some additional rules from the Omega and the Elorde Boxing Gyms.

However, he added that the Department of Health (DOH) is still barring GAB from reopening practices for boxing.

“Ayaw pa rin talaga ng DOH eh. Walang go signal (The DOH still does not want that to happen. There is no go signal yet),” Mitra said, although he added that he is still working with the IATF for boxing to return, citing the return of the sport in the United States.

The Philippine boxing community came alive recently when Mike Plania stunned world title contender Josh Greer in a 10-round action in Las Vegas.

Only players, trainers allowed

Meanwhile, Mitra bared that a joint administrative order was made between GAB, DOH, and the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) to determine the number of people who can be inside the practice facility at a time during a certain lockdown status.

“Sinabihan ako ni [Health] Secretary [Francisco] Duque to meet with the PSC and DOH, so gumawa ng joint administrative order. ‘Yun ang sinubmit namin sa TWG (Health Secretary Francisco Duque told me to meet with the PSC and DOH, so a joint administrative order was made. That is what we submitted to the technical working group),” Mitra said.

In the case of provinces under the general community quarantine (GCQ) like Metro Manila and Cavite, only five people, four players and one trainer, can do conditioning drills at a certain time.

This is a little bit stricter than the manpower limit set by the PBA, which is six, four ballers, one trainer, and another member of the team staff.

Mitra revealed that the sixth member in the PBA proposal is a health officer, but he added, “Yung lima na yun, pwede na yun — apat na player, isang coach o isang trainer. ‘Yung health officer does not have to be in the playing court. Nasa labas ka lang. I-check mo lang yung mga players kung wala silang lagnat (Those five people — four players and one coach or one trainer — are already enough. The health officer does not have to be in the playing court. You should just be outdoors. Just check if the players do not have a fever).”

However, primarily in the case of football, Mitra said that GAB would be more lenient in terms of people present on the field in provinces under the lightest lockdown, the modified GCQ (MGCQ), allowing 10 people including the trainer at a certain time.

The city of Biñan, the home of PFL side Stallion Laguna, has already shifted to MGCQ along with the rest of the province, paving the way for the club to return to training once the protocols have been approved.

Meanwhile, despite Carmona — and the entire Cavite — still being under the classic GCQ, the player-trainer limit was also set for the said town in anticipation that the entire province will be placed under MGCQ very soon.

PFF president Nonong Araneta bared that the entire PFL season, should it pushes through, may only take place behind closed doors at the PFF National Training Center in Carmona.

On whether Stallion Laguna can still hold home matches at the Biñan Football Stadium this year remains unknown since the pitch is just near the Alonte Sports Arena, which is used as a treatment facility for Covid-19 patients.

Araneta said he is proposing that the PFF National Training Center will be the Azkals’ home for their upcoming FIFA World Cup Qualifiers and AFF Suzuki Cup matches with the Rizal Memorial Stadium here being close to the Rizal Memorial Coliseum and the Ninoy Aquino Stadium, two arenas that are also being used as Covid-19 treatment facilities.

Mitra said that up to 20 people can be allowed in a training hall once all the restrictions have been lifted.

One-hour limit

Mitra then bared that only one hour may be allotted for a certain set of players and trainers to do their workouts with a 30-minute interval for cleaning the facility.

“Pasok sila nang alas-otso hanggang alas-nuwebe [ng umaga]. Linis. Then [by] 9:30, pasok ng isang team. [By] 10:30, tapos na ‘yan. Eleven [a.m.] naman ang kasunod, parang ganun ba (They may enter the practice facility from 8 to 9 in the morning. Then they can clean the hall. Then by 9:30, one group can do their practices. They should be done by 10:30. The next group can come by 11 a.m. It somehow looks like that),” he said.

The total time one team may utilize for practice is expected to become shorter once MGCQ will be in place in Metro Manila and Cavite.

The TWG, according to Mitra, will convene once all the industries have made their pitches regarding their Covid-19 protocols.

“Magde-deliberate sila kung ano ang ipapasok nila sa IATF meeting (They will deliberate on what proposals will be presented in the IATF meeting),” he quipped.

The IATF will hold a meeting on Thursday, and it may decide on whether it will approve the practice protocols or not.

Whatever happens, though, Mitra said that GAB would abide by the IATF’s rules. (PNA)