MANILA – The Department of Health (DOH) has released a memorandum circular regarding sports events not under the sanction of the Games and Amusements Board (GAB) and the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).

According to the circular dated Feb. 18, a copy of which was obtained by the Philippine News Agency on Tuesday, club leagues that are considered to be “de jure amateur" or where players were only paid allowances, can play on in a bubble setting provided that they "shall have a national government agency (NGA) sponsoring the conduct of the activity."

The Philippine Superliga (PSL) and the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL) mainly benefitted from the release of the DOH circular as they are set to play inside separate bubbles in Subic Bay.

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority will oversee both leagues' bubbles.

The memo also said the leagues must assure that "the LGU (local government unit) where the sports bubble is conducted or the sponsoring NGA shall take full accountability in monitoring and oversight of the sports bubble and the management of possible Covid-19 outbreak following the sports bubble/event."

The circular also states that the amateur sports bubbles must first be approved by the regional inter-agency task force and, like the pro league bubbles, be "compliant with the minimum public health standards set forth by this order and all other applicable government rules and regulations."

Among the minimum health standards placed are the minimum number of days for bubble training, which is 14; the transportation route is strictly from the hotel to the playing venue and vice versa; the formation of a "bubble central oversight committee"; the limit of the bubble participants regardless of their designation, which is 100; the requirement that everyone in the bubble must stay there for 14 days; and that no one from the general public would be allowed entry to watch the games live.

"Violation on the provisions of this order shall be ground for the termination of the sports bubble and penalties as applicable," the DOH memo said.

The memo also noted, "Those governed by PSC and GAB shall continue to follow PSC-GAB-DOH Joint Administrative Order No. 2020-0001."

The PSL opens its 2021 season with the Beach Volleyball Challenge Cup this weekend, while the MPBL concludes its long postponed season with the knockout semifinals on March 5 and the national finals afterward.

'Everything is in order'

On the PSL beach volley event, PSL chairman Philip Juico on Tuesday said it is now all systems go for the tournament.

"Everything is in order. There are certain kinks to be ironed, but the event is pushing through and the teams are ready," Juico said in the online Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum.

The eight teams participating in the PSL Beach Volleyball Challenge Cup are set to arrive in Olongapo by Wednesday (Feb. 24)

Ginio Panganiban, PSL's director for beach volleyball, described how the bubble would look like.

He first said the participants will first undergo saliva testing by the Olongapo chapter of the Philippine Red Cross.

"After the test, diretso na sila sa (they will go straight to the) hotel, where they will be quarantines for 24 hours. Once the negative result comes out, then that's the time they will be transferred to their designated twin sharing room," said Panganiban, who is already in Olongapo.

Following the end of its recent broadcasting tie with TV5 and its ongoing negotiations with GMA, the matches will not be aired on national television, but they will be streamed on YouTube and Instagram. (PNA)