THE national athletes’ preparation for the upcoming Southeast Asian Games (SEAG) in Vietnam this May has been put on hold owing to the recent surge of Covid-19 cases in the country.

Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman William “Butch” Ramirez said he is not taking any chances with the athletes’ health and welfare and hopes that the Covid-19 situation will get better soon.

“We will not risk lives,” said Ramirez during the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum.

“I know the coaches are worried for the athletes but that’s the reality of things, you have to live with it.”

“If by God’s grace around February, Covid numbers go down, maybe we can resume training. If the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) declares it’s safe to go back into training, most probably we can resume. We have to pray that the number of Covid-19 cases goes down,” Ramirez said.

The country’s national athletes were set to train once again in preparation for the Hanoi SEA Games. However, those plans were placed on hold after Metro Manila was placed under Alert Level 3 earlier this month because of the sudden surge in Covid-19 cases. This type of alert level prohibits contact sports unless it is done under a full bubble modality.

“With the present situation, we are evaluating that most probably, when the IATF lowers the alert level that allows us to resume practice, then we can resume practice,” said Ramirez.

“We can resume practice in PhilSports where there are eight venues; more or less 10 to 12 in Rizal,” he continued.

Ramirez, though, said his agency will wait for the green light before allowing training to resume, saying he will never place the athletes’ lives in danger.

“We’re talking about people’s lives.”