MANILA, Philippines—By the end of the year, professional sports will completely be back on its feet.
The Games and Amusements Board is anticipating this encouraging forecast after experiencing a steady upward trend in pro sports lately based on its current metrics in comparison to pre-pandemic levels.
“It is indicative of a bright outlook. The status is already close to the pre-pandemic and this is what excites us the most here at GAB,’’ said GAB Officer-in-Charge Atty. Ermar U. Benitez.
So far, the government regulatory body for professional sports has issued 876 licenses for combat sports to 759 boxers, 99 mixed martial arts fighters and 18 muay thai specialists apart from 56 permits and 427 bouts/fights supervised in boxing, MMA and muay.
The GAB issued 1,172 licenses in 2018 and 1,139 in 2019 before it painfully dipped to 454 in 2020 and 625 in 2021 at the height of the COVID-19 global health crisis.
The downward spiral of sports organizers requesting for permits was likewise severely felt the past two years with a measly 23 permits issued in 2020 and 38 in 2021 compared to 143 in 2018 and 151 in 2019.
“By the time we end 2022, there’s a possibility that the figures could double. It’s a proud moment, considering that these permits are actual events,” said Benitez, who also sits as GAB’s legal division chief.
And these figures are apart from the growing number of pro athletes returning to action in basketball, volleyball, football, esports, billiards, chess and golf.
In basketball alone, the GAB has been supervising at least nine leagues—the Philippine Basketball Association, the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League, Filbasket, Pilipinas Super League, National Basketball League, VisMin Super Cup, the Women’s National Basketball League and the 3×3 tournaments of Chooks-to-Go and the PBA.
Besides the Premier Volleyball League, Professional Chess Association of the Philippines and the Philippines Football League, tournaments in esports, billiards and golf are on the upswing with esports holding at least two tournaments every week.
“We’re trying to ease up (COVID-19) testing and we are slowly doing away with it. In place of that, we apply symptoms check and vaccination booster check, among others, while the spectators are required to show their vaccination IDs,” said Benitez.
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