MANILA, Philippines – COVID-19 reared its ugly head at the Philippines’ hosting of the Volleyball Nations League (VNL) Manila leg, causing multiple complications for involved teams, including the Philippine men’s national team.
In a late-night bulletin on Wednesday, June 15, the Philippine National Volleyball Federation (PNVF) announced that it cancelled a friendly match on Thursday, June 16, between the Philippines and the Japan men’s national team due to health protocols.
Per a report by the Japanese Volleyball Association (JVA), four staff members and six athletes tested positive via RT-PCR on Wednesday after all testing negative before leaving Japan.
Then on Thursday morning, multiple Thai outlets and the VNL itself reported that at least eight members of the Thailand women’s national team tested positive for COVID-19, which necessitated flying in last-minute replacements.
The PNVF has since apologized for the cancellation of the first of its exhibitions – dubbed the PNVF International Challenge – involving the Philippine men’s team, and has guaranteed ticket refunds. So far, the second friendly against Germany on June 27 is still on.
Meanwhile, the Thai women’s team replacements immediately suited up for their Thursday VNL match against Poland, namely Jarasporn Bundosak, Khatthalee Pinsuwa, Wipawee Srithong, Lek Thipachot, and former F2 Logistics import Tichaya Boonlert.
Despite having a huge chunk of their roster suddenly out of commission, the Thais still put up a good fight as the Poles needed to escape in a five-set comeback from two down, 22-25, 27-29, 25-16, 25-16, 15-13, for the win, and an improvement to a 4-2 VNL record.
Thailand, now also holding a 4-2 slate, swept Canada last Tuesday, and also swept the Philippine women’s team in a PNVF friendly last Saturday.
It remains to be seen if the Japan men’s team will send reinforcements as well, given that they also have four upcoming VNL matches in the Philippines from June 21 to 26. – Rappler.com