While the Philippines' preparations for the Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) have been put on hold due to the ongoing quarantine, Chef de Mission Ramon Fernandez still sees the defending champion prospering in the biennial event.
Despite the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) remaining in place until at least the end of April, Fernandez believes three months of intensive preparation would be ample time for the country's athletes to be in tip-top shape for the Vietnam SEA Games in November.
"I can only wish [the athletes] are OK physically and mentally. Three months would really be enough for them to perform still at their peak or at their very best," said Fernandez Tuesday in the online Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum.
Training for a number of sports was supposed to start at the INSPIRE Sports Academy in Laguna on Apr. 15, but the MECQ forced a change of plans.
With that, the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC)-Philippine Olympic Commission (POC) Task Force in charge of preparations for the 31st regional meet got together last week to come up with a timeline that athletes could follow.
"That's the first question I asked the PSC-POC Task Force: what is their timeline, the minimum number of days, months to prepare athletes to be ready by the end of November and December," shared Fernandez.
"That's what I first asked to be very competitive, also with the thought of being able to retain our championship, or come up with a very decent result and performance in Vietnam," added the four-time PBA MVP.
According to Fernandez, the PSC has already spent P21 million for boxing, karate, and taekwondo athletes who had been training for 45 days at the state-of-the-art facility in Calamba before the imposition of quarantine restrictions.
A total of P200 million was allocated for this year's SEA Games, half of which would be spent for training.
"So if you put all 39 sports in a bubble, how much will that cost?" asked Fernandez, also the PSC commissioner.
Various 'bubbles' all over the country have been set up for training, like fencing in Ormoc, Leyte; archery in Dumaguete, Negros Oriental; and weightlifting in Zamboanga City.
Host Philippines clinched the overall title in a wildly successful 30th SEA Games in 2019, amassing a 149-117-121 medal haul. Around 600 athletes are expected to represent the country in this year's regional meet set for Nov. 21 to Dec. 2.