Skipping the SEA Games an option – Fernandez

Commissioner Ramon Fernandez of the Philippine Sports Commission said that skipping the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam is a possibility due to the rising cases of COVID-19 in the country.

Fernandez said he is concerned about the latest development as more Filipinos are getting infected, with the tally on Saturday, March 20, reaching a record-high 7,999 new cases.

“Well, personally, that’s really an option,” said Fernandez on the weekly sports show The Chasedown on One PH over Cignal TV. “There’s nothing much that we can do.”

Fernandez, one of three players in the PBA to win four or more MVP honors, is the national team Chef de Mission in this year’s SEA Games, set Nov. 21 to Dec. 2 in the capital Hanoi City.

The national team is expected to send around 600 athletes and officials in the biennial meet.

Two years ago, the country hosted the SEA Games and the Philippine Team made history when it bagged the overall title for the first time with 149 gold medals, 117 silvers and 121 bronze medals.

Fernandez said there is no update yet from the SEA Games Federation, as well as from the Vietnam SEAG Organizing Committee as to the guidelines in participating in the event.

Normally, the host is giving rules and regulations to the participating country, or the competition manual.

The manual is necessary particularly in this situation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and health protocols would be strictly implemented by the host nation for visiting countries.

Fernandez said that while the organizers for this year’s Tokyo Olympics are not requiring a participant – an athlete, a coach or an official – to get vaccinated before they enter Japan, he is not certain if Vietnam would do the same.

“In Japan, we heard that they don’t require athletes to be vaccinated. We don’t know if in Vietnam they’ll require,” said Fernandez.

“Anything is possible. We will just cross the bridge when we get there, we’ll play it by ear. Everything is still up in the air,” added Fernandez.