GAB's Mitra: Balancing health concern with excitement at sports' return

Three-time offenders could risk revocation of professional license
Baham Mitra GAB chairman
Games and Amusements Board (GAB) chairman Baham Mitra

Games and Amusements Board chairman Baham Mitra says he is excited to see professional athletes return to action – at least in practice sessions – when it is good to go under the General Community Quarantine (GCQ).

Pro athletes, particularly from the PBA, were supposed to start training last Wednesday, but the decision to revert Mega Manila to Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) until August 18 pushed the ‘restart’ later this month.

“Yes… it’s been months,” said Mitra in a message to Manila Bulletin.

“We’re just concerned lang talaga with the health, and with the cases going up, as much as we want to resume, we want to make sure that we do it correctly.”

The decision to allow pro athletes to return to training was approved by the tripartite Joint Administrative Order of GAB, Department of Health and the Philippine Sports Commission.

Mitra signed the guidelines under JAO with PSC chairman Butch Ramirez and health secretary Francisco Duque III last month.

READ: Signed, sealed, delivered: IATF letter makes official go-signal for PBA practice

Although the pro athletes were not allowed to restart because of the MECQ, Mitra said it gave the JAO more time to improve the guidelines with few amendments, including the implementation of penalties on would-be offenders.

“Maybe on the first offense warning, then second offense is suspension, and then third offense is revocation of license,” said Mitra, adding that being included to the guidelines is the “inter-zonal travel” for 3x3 players going to a ‘bubble’ in Laguna.

Mitra is also proposing for teams to provide shuttle service for players and coaches.

Mitra said that while the idea would mean additional cost, he is confident it would ensure the safety of team members since the vans would only travel from homes to gyms and back.

“Hatid-sundo sa bahay sila, walang nakalagay pero ako I encouraged that. Takot lang sa costs. Hatid-sundo diretso bahay mga players and coaches, yan na ang plano,” said Mitra.

He also clarified that only the pro leagues under GAB are given the green light under the JAO agreement, and these include the PBA, Philippine Football League, Chooks-to-Go 3x3 event and pro boxers.