The effects of the novel coronavirus have already reached the sporting world as we have been hearing of the postponement of local and international sports events left and right.
The risk assessment is high and the safety of the athletes and spectators are of paramount importance.
The situation is very challenging to everyone in all levels of sports.
In school-based sports, the challenge is to maintain the clinical protocols in their activities.
What we are seeing is that schools are choosing to either continue their sports programs or to call for temporary postponement. Some will see it as an exaggeration because we have very small number of cases here while others say that there’s a chance for an outbreak to hit us so we have to be very careful.
I agree with the latter.
In school set up, the institution can control the number of students who want to use a sports facility.
But when you talk about a multi-school event, that’s a different story.
The participating teams have to come up with the latest health status of each and every team member from the athletes to the coaches and their assistants.
But what about the students who will come to watch the event?
Will they still be able to apply the same treatment of checking each and everyone from the two competing teams?
I think it will be very taxing for everyone.
Training and preparation can continue in their respective schools.
But until the coronavirus epidemic has been eradicated completely, I have to agree that the postponement of multi-sport events in stadiums and complexes is necessary.
On the other hand, an option for these school-based sports is to redesign their competition and set it up to smaller clusters of schools like dual or triangular meets. They could conduct it within the school itself and not in sports arenas that are open to public.
I believe it is doable.
Another advantage of clustering is that the cleanliness of the school facilities should be higher than in an open venue. It is a must since the access to school facilities is more limited and can be checked by the visiting teams a day before the competition.
Swimming is a very good example.
The visiting team can check the chlorine and acid levels of the pool before using it because the virus cannot survive in chlorinated water.
Second, the visiting team can also check the ventilation of the pool area and see if there is a free flow of air inside, which would also add to the safety of the air quality against a closed air-conditioned indoor swimming facility.
Third, teams should agree on the number of spectators they wish to admit for added safety.
And when we think about the upcoming Tokyo Olympics and the preparation of our athletes, I believe the Philippine Sports Commission, Philippine Olympic Committee and all national sports associations involved are doing a fantastic job.
They all agreed that safety should always comes first for their athletes so they transferred their training and competition venues to places with the least chances of exposure to virus.
Our best bet for the gold medal in Olympic Hidilyn Diaz has transferred her training camp to Malaysia instead of China for obvious reason.
Meanwhile, our judokas are safe in Japan where the health protocol is very high.
From a former athlete like myself, I think the advent of the coronavirus will affect everyone involved in the Tokyo Olympics.
It is now a matter of who was able to prepare the best given the present situation and not knowing when the epidemic will be eradicated.
Our best athletes need our support more than ever.
The private sector should also be tapped to help in their preparation.
Our athletes should not think about the naysayers who are claiming that even the staging of the Summer Games would be affected by the virus. Remember, the Olympics is still five months away and there are thousands of doctors who are already working on the vaccine.
As soon as these doctors formulated a vaccine that would fight the virus, everybody will be back to “Olympic mode.”
This is not the time to back down.
Instead, let us level up our preparation to gain advantage in the biggest, most glamorous sports event in the world.