PH collegiate sports

UAAP completes athlete vax drive, finalizing early 2022 return

JR Isaga
UAAP completes athlete vax drive, finalizing early 2022 return

SAFETY FIRST. Student-athletes from different UAAP schools receive their COVID-19 vaccine at the Commission on Higher Education office in Quezon City.

Rappler

Shuttered for nearly two years, the UAAP looks to return to action by mid-February

After nearly two years of dormancy, collegiate sports may finally be returning to the Philippines after the UAAP followed up on its long-reported return to action for Season 84 in the first quarter of 2022.

This time, however, there are now more concrete steps being made by the league as its select student-athletes completed their vaccination drives on Wednesday, October 20, at the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) facility in Diliman, Quezon City.

“As for our basketball and volleyball, all of our players are 100% fully vaccinated. They’re ready to come back. We’re just waiting for the permission for them to return to training,” said UAAP Season 84 president Nonong Calanog of La Salle.

“Our hope is that the approval for return to training will be soon so that we can get them back into training by November 1. We have three and a half months for them to train to get back in competition shape to be able to start by mid-February,” he continued.

In accordance to earlier reports, UAAP Season 84’s seniors basketball tournaments are currently set for a tentative launch next February, while the seniors volleyball tournaments are penciled in around the Holy Week, which would be mid-April.

From the beginning of nationwide quarantine 19 months ago, this completion of the vaccination drive for student-athletes is the first significant improvement to the long-standing ban by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on amateur sports in the country.

Since then, rosters of teams have been torn apart and largely retooled due to the lengthy shutdown, and multiple athletes who opted to stay in college have applied for guest licenses from the Games and Amusements Board (GAB) just to play in other leagues.

However, the light at the end of a very long tunnel may just be in sight as vaccinations for Filipinos, including essential personnel for the UAAP and the amateur sports scene as a whole, continue by the thousands every day.

“We plan by the end of October, to have college student vaccinations go up to 60%, and more or less 80% by November,” said vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr.

“And if we target to have basketball this coming February, we will make sure that this is sorted out at 100%, including support personnel.”

CHED meanwhile, reiterated that they have already been in close communication with the UAAP, the NCAA, and the Department of Health since last year regarding the return of collegiate competition.

“The only thing we have to do is to tweak the guidelines given the circumstances. We’re not starting from scratch,” said CHED chairman Prospero de Vera III.

“It should be easy to put it [together], but the bottom line is we must vaccinate the student-athletes, and the rest of the education stakeholders. That’s what is non-negotiable. But if everyone is vaccinated, it will be easy to adjust the guidelines.” – Rappler.com