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HARRY Roque, the often embattled spokesman, said this (in Filipino) last Friday: “Practice and conditioning are now allowed in basketball and football, in accordance with the request of the PBA and other football associations.”

This brings bad news and good news.

Bad news because basketball and football are “anti-social distancing” activities. Both games are close-contact sports. Apart from wrestling, I can’t think of any other sport that requires more body-to-body action than soccer and basketball. Scary? Yes. If a player is Covid-19 positive and he plays 5-on-5 basketball, we know the end result. Everybody gets infected.

Good news because the authorities are confident. While Cebu City is stuck in ECQ mode, the outlook in Metro Manila is different. They’re opening up. This is good news because the world needs sports. Amidst all the negativity and hopelessness, the world of sports brings hope and (pun intended) positivity.

How will the PBA do this? The Board will meet soon to lay out their plans for practice sessions. They also hope to plot options for a date for the PBA’s full return; a single conference season is targeted to end 2020.

Willie Marcial, the PBA commissioner, said that a “bubble” will be enforced to ensure safety for all. In an interview, he said that all players and staff will be tested three days prior to the first practice session. After that, they’ll be tested every 10 days.

Tim Cone, the coach of Barangay Ginebra, told the Inquirer: “(There are still) so much details (that) needs to be worked out.” And SMB coach Leo Austria added: “We’re still far from what we all long for, which is official games. But the mere fact that we’re making such progress gives hope to the people.”

DJOKOVIC. By now, you’ve read about the disastrous Adria Tour organized by world No. 1 Novak Djokovic. Scheduled to be played in four European cities, the tennis exhibition matches brought together Sascha Zverez, Dominic Thiem, Grigor Dimitrov and Djokovic, among others.

Tennis (unlike basketball and football) is contact-less. Your opponent stands 78 feet away. In rankings of the “least contagious sports,” tennis ranks at the top. But what Djokovic did was mind-boggling. He allowed the players to shake hands, hug, and party to end the tournament. He allowed spectators, over 4,000 in Belgrade, to sit side-by-side. The result: after a couple of weeks, Djokovic, Dimitrov and several of his tennis-mates got Covid-19.

Nicknamed “Djoker,” Covid-19 is no joke, he realized. Djokovic has since apologized and been lambasted by sports fans around the world.

The US Open is scheduled next month, on Aug. 24. Given the catastrophe that happened to Novak’s event, I’m sure the officials will be strict, more so because the site is in New York City, previously the epicenter of this pandemic.

No fans. Testing for all. No shaking of hands, only the crossing of swords (rackets) between opponents.


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