The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is planning to include vaccination in the eligibility requirements of student-athletes in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
League Management Committee chair Fr. Vic Calvo, O.P. of host Letran said in the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum that careful steps are being taken towards the planned implementation of such a rule.
"We've had several discussions about [mandatory vaccination]. We have to respect the freedom of an individual, but we're also asking our lawyers," Calvo said.
Management Committee (ManCom) Peter Cayco of Arellano University also voiced the same stand on the matter. For his part, he understands the rights and respects the decision of student-athletes to decline inoculation, but the league also considers the safety of those who seek vaccination.
“Although we recognize the rights of the students to choose kung ma-vaccinate sila (if they get vaccinated) or not, we also have to consider the rights of the other students na gusto magpa-vaccinate (who desires to get vaccinated),” Cayco explained.
“We’re putting it as part of our eligibility requirements. We’re just clearing the details with our legal team para wala naman tayong sabit pare-pareho (to avoid complications).”
To that end, Calvo bared that the league is dead set on launching a vaccine information campaign in hopes of allaying fears towards the proposed rule.
“Kaya pinupush namin ‘yung (That is the reason why we're pushing for) vaccine information campaign. Si Sir Herc [Herc Callanta, Lyceum athletics department consultant] ‘yung naka-assign dito para ‘yung hesitancy ng mga players [mabawasan] (Sir Herc is the one assigned for this in order to reduce hesitancy of the players)," he said.
The oldest collegiate league in the country echoes the same sentiments as the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP). Through league executive director Atty. Rebo Saguisag, the UAAP expressed that the vaccine rollout is a game-changer in the bid to open Season 84 without a hitch. As Calvo put it, "Pagka may vaccine na, sabi nga ng mga kaibigan natin doon sa kabila, game-changer (When the vaccination pushes through, as our counterpart put it, it is a game-changer)."
The NCAA will raise its curtains to Season 96 on June 13. The league is set to feature virtual events in online chess and taekwondo (speed kicking and poomsae), while other events such as basketball and volleyball have yet to receive government approval.
Ohmer Bautista is a sports journalist who has covered local and international sporting events in the Philippines. The views expressed are his own.
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