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PSC looking to add more Olympic hopefuls to Calamba bubble

With three national sporting associations (NSAs) now holding bubble training at the INSPIRE Sports Academy in Calamba, Laguna for a chance to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) is looking to open the door for more.

Currently, only boxing, karatedo, and taekwondo have been allowed by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to conduct face-to-face training in the Calamba bubble. Additionally, Gilas Pilipinas Men is also in Calamba. The rest hold theirs online.

According to Philippine Sports Institute director Marc Edward Velasco, the PSC is now working to seek government approval for athletes looking to participate in the 31st Southeast Asian Games to conduct face-to-face training as well.

Other sports which are set to hold training bubbles soon include fencing in City of Ormoc, Leyte, and archery in the City of Dumaguete, Negros Oriental.

However, the national sports ministry had not yet decided on the NSAs that would take the place of Gilas Pilipinas Men, which is currently inside the compound as well preparing for the third window of the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers to be held in Clark next month.

"We need the IATF clearance for that. [PSC] Commissioner Ramon Fernandez [SEA Games chef-de-mission] is working on that," said Velasco in Tuesday's PSA Forum webcast.

Currently, there are 57 athletes and coaches inside the training bubble, where they are currently undergoing quarantine. Several more are expected to follow suit.

They are projected to stay there for at least three months inside the venue to train for their respective Olympic Qualifying Tournaments at the middle of 2021.

One of them is karatedo, which is looking at several candidates to join EJ Obiena, Caloy Yulo, Eumir Marcial, and Irish Magno in the Philippine Olympic delegation.

Karate Pilipinas Sports Federation head Richard Lim bared that aside from a stint inside the bubble, they are looking to train in Istanbul, Turkey for SEA Games preparations.

Among those inside with Olympic aspirations are karatekas Jamie Lim, Sharief Afif, Ivan Agustin, Alwyn Batian, and Jayson Macaalay. On the other hand, Junna Tsukii and Joane Orbon are also preparing overseas in Japan, and San Francisco, respectively.

The SEA Games will be held from Nov. 21-Dec. 2 in Hanoi, Vietnam. Lim also bared that the NSA will be using the biennial event as further training for the postponed Asian Indoor Martial Arts Games (AIMAG).

AIMAG was supposed to be held in Bangkok, Thailand this May but was pushed to Mar. 2022.

"We have a long time to prepare. We have to sit down with all the NSAs that will be participating in the AIMAG, and what are the chances, so we can make an assessment of what they need, and what exposure [will they] have," said Lim.