THE already-delayed staging of the 10th ASEAN Para Games in the country was further pushed back after the ASEAN Para Sports Federation (APSF) Board of Governors decided in an emergency meeting on Monday to tentatively stage the event in October over the ongoing concerns on the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Done by way of videoconference, the meeting was held to tackle the status of the ASEAN Para Games relative to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has now affected all Southeast Asian member countries.

The APSF members in the two-hour videoconference, chaired by Philippine Paralympic Committee (PPC) president Michael Barredo, agreed to move the sporting event for the differently abled athletes to Oct. 3 to 9 this year from March 21 to 27.

It is hoped that by moving the date of the staging, the event would finally be held and the COVID-19 disease already contained.

The move was also done to give the Philippines ASEAN Para Games Organizing Committee (PHILAPGOC) added time to prepare and make the needed adjustments.

It marked the second time that the 2020 ASEAN Para Games had been moved.

The sporting event, which usually happens immediately after the SEA Games, was scheduled to take place from Jan. 18 to 25 this year in different parts of Luzon, including in the newly built sports facilities at the New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac, but was deferred to March 21 to 27 because of lack of funds on the part of the PSC, which was tasked to fund the event.

Despite the postponement, the PPC said its preparation would continue.

But with the COVID-19 far from being contained to this date, with local cases now numbering 142 as of this writing, another postponement was rendered inevitable.

As of the moment, training of Filipino para athletes has been put on hold with the country under a state of Public Health Emergency because of COVID-19.

As part of precautionary measures, the Philippine Sports Commission requested all athletes to leave their dormitories for the meantime and placed its facilities on restricted access. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo