With the World Health Organization declaring a pandemic due to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) early this year, all sporting events were suspended as early as March.
Mayor Benjamin Magalong heeded Malacanang in ordering an enhanced community quarantine on March 17, thus effectively cancelling the Panagbenga and the Cordillera Administrative Region Athletic Association meet.
“Sayang hirap at preparations ng mga bata (The hardship and preparations of the kids all went to waste),” said University of the Cordilleras High School girls coach Sherry Anne Floresca, who was then prepping up a UCHS – led female squad to the CARAA.
“May mga senior high dyan na graduating pa man din (There are senior high students in the team who are graduating,” added Floresca. Floresca and Team Baguio wanted to win the regional crown and get a ticket to the Palarong Pambansa where they hope to better their Top 8 finish last year. But Covid ended their dream.
The whole Mountain Province elementary and high school athletics teams were also early for the CARAA and the players practically in tears when the games were cancelled.
“May mga graduating na sa senior high, kaya naman nakakalungkot at hindi na makapaglalaro sa CARAA (there are graduating senior high school students there and it is saddening that thay can no longer play in the CARAA),” said Mountain Province athletics trainer Nestor Cuyopan.
The message from the Department of Education – Cordillera came in when the team was already about 20 kilometers from Baguio. “So we can’t just go back anymore,” said Cuyopan, who let the students made the most of their time by training while in Baguio.
Then the Baguio Benguet Educational Athletic League called an end for the season with volleyball still being played. That frustrated the bid of the Baguio College of Technology Lady Atoms to win for the second straight time.
Games in other events were also called off – athletics, judo, taekwondo, among others.
The elimination games between the University of Baguio and the UC for seats in the Private School Athletic Association meet set on April were deemed moot with the cancellation of the event that was supposed to be played in Cagayan.
More depressing is the future of the BBEAL with the 2020-2021 season officially off the schedule when classes were declared online and no face to face encounter between learners and teachers. The doors of the schools were shuttered.
All sporting events were stopped. The sports pages of the national dailies were practically bereft with game results. The National Basketball Association – many eager to see LeBron James go for a ring with the LA Lakers with Anthony Davis to back him up – was also put on hold. Later, it decided to have a shortened season with those having a chance to make it to the playoffs allowed to play their remaining games.
The NBA also introduced the Bubble where teams compete in only one venue and they were housed and fed and interact only with their opponents come game time.
Lewis Hamilton nearly walked to his seventh crown with a little funfare when the F-1 Racing was suspended. It resumed later sands audience like the NBA for him to claim his seventh crown and Team Mercedes Benz collect its Construction Trophy.
Then the PBA followed the example of the NBA by also holding its own Bubble at Clark. We saw Ginebra walk off from the Bubble with the all-Filipino trophy.
Golf also resumed. So was tennis and we see Rafael Nadal win his 13th French Open title and the 20th Grand Slam to tie the record of his good friend Roger Federer. And also see Novak Djokovich walk out of the US Open unceremoniously after hitting a line official with a ball.
The Team Lakay warriors also played in ONE’s version of the Bubble with The Matrix. No screaming fans this time and three of the four fighters fell by the wayside starting with its most famous member Eduard Folayang, followed by losses of Lito Adiwang, whose thunder was stolen, and the Silencer Kevin Belingon who was silenced.
Only Geje Eustaquio refused to bulk and won.
Danny Kingad’s face-off with former champion Marat Akhmetov – whom Eustaquio beat to arrange a showdown with Adriano Moraes for the flyweight crown in 2018 – was signed off after one of the Lakay cornermen was found positive for Covid-19.
Year 2020 is almost over and we hope to see a better year for sports – with more arena opening up, with more sports to be played and a day not bereft of sports results in the sports section of newspapers.
That could top my wish list for 2021