GAB chairman Mitra calls for cooperation of pro athletes

'Better safe than sorry,' says Mitra
Baham Mitra GAB chairman
Games and Amusements Board (GAB) chairman Baham Mitra

Games and Amusements Board (GAB) chairman Baham Mitra said that if all professional athletes will cooperate, actual sports competition may soon be allowed by the government.

Mitra has called on the sports community, particularly pro basketball and football, which were granted practice sessions via a Joint Administrative Order (JAO) signed by GAB, the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and the Department of Health (DOH) last week.

He said that since the country is still in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, professional basketball and football players should strictly follow health protocols set by JAO on the directive by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).

“Lahat tayo Filipino, lahat tayo iisa ang batas, at sa ngayon ang batas natin ang Interagency Agency Task Force,” said Mitra last Saturday on The Chasedown on Cignal TV’s One PH channel.

“We are asking for utmost cooperation. If we do something, we should do it correctly. It’s better safe than sorry. If one mistake, (it) may have big effect on the whole sports industry and it might be all wiped out.”

“Kapag nagalit ang gobyerno sa atin sasabihin nila ‘ang gugulo ninyo, jan pa pala nagkakaron ng transmission (of COVID-19), i-hinto niyo na lahat yan’… ‘di pati yung mga tournaments natin mawawala. So I’m afraid of that,” he added.

A week ago, Mitra, PSC head Butch Ramirez and DOH chief Francisco Duque III signed the JAO guideline for pro leagues Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) and Philippine Football League (PFL) that allows pro athletes to return to training – a step towards actual competitions.

READ: Contact sports face tall odds for training approval

PBA commissioner Willie Marcial has said that nine of the 12 ball clubs will have swab testing on Thursday and Friday at the Makati Medical Center (with results out probably in the next two days) before the league can allow teams to have training schedules.

These teams are the MVP owned franchises of TNT KaTropa, NLEX, Meralco, NorthPort, Blackwater, Phoenix Fuel, Alaska, Terra Firma DYIP and Rain or Shine.

The three teams under the San Miguel Corporation – Barangay Ginebra, Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok and San Miguel Beer – will have their own swab tests at the company’s main office in Pasig City tomorrow and the next day.

Mitra, former governor of Palawan, said that while GAB won’t be “over regulating” these professional leagues, he will be active in every step to implement the rules so as not to violate the guidelines.

“I’m going to do everything to make sure that it doesn’t happen (violation),” said Mitra.

“We don’t want to be over-regulating them, pero sumunod naman sila. We ask everybody’s help and support to have discipline. Cooperation is the key – this is a team effort,” he said.