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UAAP stoppage gains support

Bea Micaller

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Volleyball coaches backed the decision of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) that calls for the suspension of second semester events due to the global outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

Ateneo de Manila University head coach Oliver Almadro expressed admiration to the league, saying that it puts the safety and welfare of the athletes, coaches and spectators more than anything else.

Almadro, who guided the Lady Eagles to the Season 81 women’s volleyball title in his first tour of duty, said the postponement is actually a blessing in disguise as it gives them an ample time to prepare for their title defense.

The Lady Eagles were initially set to plunge into action against bitter rival De La Salle University on Sunday.

“Well, I admire the UAAP because it is after the welfare and safety of athletes, fans, officials and coaches,” Almadro said, adding that the decision doesn’t frustrate him.

“I’m not frustrated because I know that the UAAP is just doing the right thing. All it wants is to ensure the long-term welfare and safety of our athletes.”

Women’s volleyball isn’t the only sport shelved due to the outbreak of the deadly pulmonary virus that already infected more than 60,000 people in China and more than 20 countries around the world.

Also postponed were football, softball, baseball, athletics and judo.

The playoffs of junior basketball and beach volleyball were also shelved.

The league has yet to come up with a decision as to when the games would be held.

The UAAP isn’t the only league that is taking precautionary measures.

The Philippine Basketball Association also moved its opening from 1 March to 8 March while the National Collegiate Athletic Association already scrapped its entire juniors tournament.

Almadro admitted that this development would definitely have an impact on their program.

“Of course, it has an impact. But in the long run, it all boils down to the safety of everyone,” the outspoken mentor said.

“We are programmed to play two days from now, but now we have to adjust everything. It’s okay. We really have to prepare more and do well with the extra time given to us.”

University of the Philippines head coach Godfrey Okumu agrees, even suggesting that it would be better if the games would be played behind closed doors to avoid the spread of the virus — if ever there would be one.

“We can’t predict what will happen and who can have the virus so it’s better to suspend the games for the meantime,” the Kenyan tactician said.

“But if the situation gets worse, I think it would be better to play in a confined place where only the players and officials will be present.”

Okumu added that they have no choice but to go back to the drawing board and re-evaluate their program.

“It’s frustrating but we have no choice,” Okumu said.

“We just have to sit and wait. We can’t do anything. The most vital thing is the health of my players. We have to be healthy.”

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