Strict safety protocols in effect for FIBA ‘bubble’ in Clark — BCDA

EXPECT strict safety protocols to be implemented when the country hosts the third and final window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers at Clark City in Angeles City, Pampanga, in June.

This was shared by the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) as it pushes for the successful staging of the five-day tournament, done in a “bubble” setup to guard against the coronavirus, happening from June 16 to 20 that will see nine teams from different countries and territories in Asia competing.

Along with its subsidiary Clark Development Corp. (CDC), the BCDA said it has been closely coordinating with the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, national government, and the local governments of Pampanga and Angeles City in readying the areas that will serve as hosts for the qualifiers.

The tournament is expected to receive over 600 local and foreign players, coaches and tournament staff for its duration.

In going about preparing, the BCDA said it is taking cue from its experience of successfully hosting the tournament bubble of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) last year, which ran from October to December.

“Hosting the PBA bubble in Clark last year gave BCDA and CDC the experience of mounting sporting events in the face of COVID-19. This time, with the arrival of foreign teams for the FIBA Asia Cup, BCDA and CDC will step up to the challenge and leave no stone unturned. Health and safety measures will be strictly enforced to protect all athletes and staff, and to eliminate the possibility of spreading the virus,” said BCDA President and Chief Executive Officer Vince Dizon in a statement.

The BCDA is also being guided by the directives on physical activities and sports amid the pandemic, which were jointly crafted by the Philippine Sports Commission, Games and Amusements Board, and Department of Health.

For the staging of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers, the BCDA said, the movement of players, coaches and staff will be limited to within the airport, hotels and the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center where the tournament will be held. The designated hotels are Quest Hotel & Conference Center in Mimosa and Lohas Hotel in Redwood Villas, both in the Clark Freeport Zone.

The 200 foreign delegates from the eight countries are scheduled to arrive on June 13. They will be quarantined the next day, then practices will be held on June 15. Visiting teams will depart on June 21.

They are required to take RT-PCR tests 12 days, seven days and two days before departure to the Philippines. They must also secure RT-PCR tests on the day of arrival, four days after arrival, and before departure if required by the country of destination.

Members of the Gilas Pilipinas team, which are to compete in Group A of the tournament, are covered by the protocols. And so do FIBA and SBP personnel, hotel, transport and ancillary staff, and other staff from TV5, PLDT and Smart, who are official partners of FIBA.

“This is a team effort. Everyone, including the government, LGUs, organizers, athletes and staff must play their part to ensure the success of the FIBA bubble,” Mr. Dizon said.

The FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers were originally set to take place in Clark in February until the emergence of new variants of the coronavirus forced their cancelation.

The SBP eventually was able to secure its hosting in June, later boosted by the approval of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases on May 6 for it to proceed.

Playing in the tournament are teams from the Philippines, Korea, Thailand, and Indonesia in Group A, Chinese Taipei, Japan, and China in Group B, and Hong Kong and Guam in Group C.

The FIBA Asia Cup will be held in Jakarta, Indonesia, in August. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo