MANILA, Philippines – After two years of inactivity, the UAAP will finally resume operations with Season 84 tipping off this March 26 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The announcement was formally made by league officials at a press conference in Pasig City on Friday, February 25.
Several sports will make a comeback this year – men’s basketball, women’s volleyball, cheerdancing, men and women’s beach volleyball, men’s 3×3 basketball, poomsae, and chess.
Men’s basketball will basically be the league’s testing ground for the hosting of other sports. If all goes well, the tourney is slated to end by May 12, and the women’s volleyball tournament will start shortly afterwards.
However, fans of collegiate sports will have to wait a bit to get closer to their favorite athletes as the season will be held in bubble setups without fans nor media, pursuant to current Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) advisories.
Still, the league is open to welcome fans as early as the second round of the basketball tournament if the COVID-19 situation further eases up in Metro Manila.
“As executive director [Atty. Rebo Saguisag] mentioned, we’ll ask for more patience from our fans and our media partners,” said UAAP president Emmanuel “Nonong” Calanog. “At the very least for the first round, we’ll maintain a strict bubble.”
“If by the end of the first round, things start to go well, we may start to bring in a limited number of spectators and media partners by the start of second round. It will depend on the science and the data by that time.”
For now, the athletes will be locked in a bubble, be consistently tested, and will be transported straight to the playing venue on game days.
For now, the UAAP is eyeing the MOA Arena, the Araneta Coliseum, the Ynares Sports Center in Pasig, and the FilOil Flying V Centre in San Juan as potential venues.
If all goes well, the aforementioned sports apart from basketball and volleyball are also set to start tentatively at the end of May.
The UAAP last operated in the second week of March 2020, just days before the first pandemic lockdown measures were put to effect in the Philippines.
Although the Season 82 seniors’ basketball tournament was able to finish as scheduled in 2019, the seniors’ volleyball tournament was only limited to two games per school before the league officially ended the season on April 7, 2020, one month after the last games were played.
All attempts to resume operations since then have been repeatedly hampered by various COVID-19 surges and variants.