The University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Season 84 will finally return on Mar. 26 after the COVID-19 pandemic put it on the bench for two years.
UAAP president Emmanuel Calanog made the official announcement in a press conference with other league officials in Pasig.
Men’s basketball, women’s volleyball, and cheerdance competition will see action once more and are this season's priority events.
Men's and women's 3x3 basketball, men's beach volleyball, poomsae, and men's and women's chess will also make their debut in the collegiate league.
Season 84 will be held under a "bubble" set-up, UAAP officials said. Collegiate teams will stay in their respective schools, and will have designated vehicles that will bring them to and from the venues.
Among the proposed venues are Smart Araneta Coliseum, Mall of Asia Arena, Filoil Flying V Arena, and Ynares Sports Arena.
Officials noted that all student athletes of UAAP-member schools have already been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as early as last year.
RT-PCR and antigen tests will also be conducted weekly before every gameday, officials added.
There would also be no live crowds for the time being, officials said, despite Metro Manila mayors having already submitted a recommendation to the Inter-Agency Task Force to place the capital under Alert Level 1 next month.
Under Alert Level 1, all establishments may operate at full capacity with respect to minimum public health standards.
The National Capital Region is under Alert Level 2 for the rest of February. Under the measure, establishments may cater up to half capacity for indoors for fully vaccinated adults and even unvaccinated minors. Outdoor settings are allowed at 70% capacity.
It also allows face-to-face classes, dine-in services, religious gatherings, and personal care services, among others.
UAAP officials had canceled Season 82 on Apr. 7, 2020, when restrictive measures have been in place over several parts of the country to curb the spread of the virus. The last set of games took place in the second week of that year's March, days before the very first lockdown.
Plans to hold UAAP Season 83 last year have surfaced but didn't come into fruition due to the country's COVID-19 situation, which has seen a spike after the holiday season.
The Department of Health (DOH) has detected local cases of the highly transmissible Omicron variant last Jan. 3. In the days that followed, the country saw new record highs in daily infections due to the Omicron variant.
As of Feb. 24, the country logged 1,745 new cases, the sixth straight day that new cases that cases are at the 1,000th mark.