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The country's buildup leading to the Vietnam Southeast Asian Games in May has hit a snag as the Philippines is currently seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases in the past weeks, according to a report by GMA News.

Ramon Fernandez, the country's chef de mission to the SEA Games, said that they have to make some adjustments especially as some venues and facilities to be used for training are located in areas under Alert Level 3.

"We really have to make adjustments because of this pandemic. We have to take it one step at a time," Fernandez told GMA News Online in an interview.

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"Definitely, it [COVID-19 surge] has a big impact. We may have to implement a bubble training, especially in contact sports. We really have to be strict in testing and all."

According to Fernandez, some national athletes have already started with their preparations prior to the announcement of stricter alert level system.

Athletes from boxing and karate were in Baguio while muay thai and kickboxing were in Benguet. Archery is in Dumaguete, fencing is in Ormoc and weightlifting is scattered in Cebu, Bohol, and Zamboanga.

Fernandez also added that aside from these venues, also eyed as a location for national team training is the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Manila. Sports that are expected to fill this venue are taekwondo, wushu, judo, table tennis, and athletics.

But with the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, Fernandez said that they might have to delay the training as the government does not allow contact sports including practices under Alert Level 3. Training will only be allowed under a bubble-type setup.

Manila and Baguio are both under Alert Level 3 until January 15.

"As of now, none yet [training in Manila]. We can't use the venues because they are also fixing the dormitories and there are minor repairs," added Fernandez, who is also a Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) commissioner.

"But with the Omicron we might have to implement protocols, RT-PCR tests, and all."

The Vietnam SEA Games is slated from May 12 to 23 in Vietnam with the Philippines eyeing to defend its overall championship title.


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