By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
Senior Reporter

WITH THE SPREAD of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) an ongoing and concerning threat, and in relation to the local measures put up to contain it, the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) at the weekend moved to cancel the remainder of Season 82.

It was the content of a league memorandum issued on Saturday, March 14, which was signed by both Season 82 President Emmanuel M. Fernandez of host school Ateneo de Manila University and Executive Director Atty. Rene Andrei Saguisag.

The UAAP, however, provided a glimmer of hope for collegiate play, saying it may revisit the idea of resuming action albeit with a revamped format if the situation improves.

The UAAP underscored the need to ensure the welfare and safety of the “greater number” in its decision just as it wanted to adhere to “the stringent social distancing measures imposed in the National Capital Region” which is part of the guidelines set by the government as it put Metro Manila under community quarantine beginning March 15.

Under the guidelines, mass gathering like sporting events and entertainment activities are prohibited. Classes at all levels were also suspended until April 14, this year.

With the UAAP decision to cancel, affected were all high school events whether pending or yet to commence, including the first-ever girls basketball tournament, which was already in the finals when competition was stopped because of the threat of COVID-19.

University of Santo Tomas and Adamson University were tied in their best-of-three finals with a game each and it was decided to declare both of them as co-champions.

For collegiate competition, the UAAP said the regular formats of the different sporting events were also cancelled.

But if the government declares that it is safe to resume classes on April 15, or a day after the community quarantine in NCR had lapsed, and does not prohibit mass gathering, the league will craft alternative formats of competition to begin no earlier than May 1.

Among affected collegiate tournaments were those of volleyball, football, baseball, softball, lawn tennis and 3×3 basketball.

In volleyball, at the time that play was stopped, the National University Lady Bulldogs were on top of the heap with a 2-0 record.

They were followed by the De La Salle Lady Spikers at 1-0, with the UST Golden Tigresses, Ateneo Lady Eagles, Far Eastern University Lady Tamaraws and University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons having identical 1-1 cards.

The Adamson Lady Falcons were at 0-1 and the University of the East Lady Warriors winless at 0-2.

In the men’s tournament, NU and FEU were tied on top with 2-0 cards, followed by UP, Ateneo and UE (1-1).

La Salle and Adamson were at 0-1 and UST at 0-2.

The start of the tournament was already delayed by two weeks because of COVID-19. It was scheduled to begin on Feb. 15 but formally kicked off on March 3.

The UAAP said it was a tough decision to make, recognizing the hard work that coaches and student-athletes had put in for the season, but something that it had to do.

It closed out the memorandum by asking for all stakeholders’ patience and understanding in light of the ongoing situation.