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PSC shutters Manila, Pasig stadiums due to virus

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With the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring the 2019 coronavirus disease (Covid-19) a global pandemic, the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) on Thursday placed its two major facilities — Rizal Memorial Sports Complex (RMSC) in Manila and Philsports Complex in Pasig — on “restricted access” to ensure the safety of its national athletes, employees and the public.

“We have to be proactive in this situation and take these hard decisions for the safety of our athletes and employees,” PSC Chairman William Ramirez said while addressing the commission’s management committee.

Except for those still preparing for qualifying competitions for the Tokyo Olympics, Ramirez said all national athletes and members of the junior team have been requested to go home as all dormitories need to be vacated as part of the agency’s prevention plan.

“Only those who get an endorsement to proceed from Olympics Chef de Mission Nonong Araneta will be allowed to travel overseas,” instructed Ramirez. National sports associations, under whose supervision athletes train, would have more information to give a good assessment and advise better on whether to proceed.

Athletes coming back to the country from competitions will be received at the airport by PSC personnel and will either be assisted to their plane, bus or boat ride to their respective residences. They may also opt to take a 14-day “preventive rest and monitoring” at the RMSC North Tower under the watch of the medical team of the agency.

Foreign travel has also been suspended for all athletes, coaches, officials and employees to lower the risk of contracting the illness or spreading it locally.

“This shall be in effect for a month, from March 14 to April 14,” an advisory signed by PSC Officer-in-charge Commissioner Celia Kiram said.

The same advisory also informed that all bookings and reservations for the use of its facilities are revoked or cancelled. It also reiterated a previous announcement that PSC projects, programs and events including those sponsored and organized in cooperation with NSAs or LGUs are indefinitely postponed.

The agency has also advised the public that work is suspended on Friday (March 13) to give way to sanitation efforts to be undertaken by the PSC operations department.

PSC Chief of Staff Marc Edward Velasco disclosed that the agency’s Medical and Scientific Athletes Services will issue self-quarantine guidelines for athletes and employees.

The PSC on Thursday called an emergency meeting with officials of NSAs with athletes still billeted in its dormitories to advise them of the new directives. Officials from boxing, weightlifting, Muay Thai, athletics, fencing and Paralympics attended the meeting presided over by Kiram.