Clark City marks anniversary of 1st PBA Bubble

The pandemic continues to press on but the Games have slowly but surely made a comeback in Clark City, thanks to a “bubble” adapted in sporting tournaments.

The thriving metropolis holds the distinction of being the first city in the Philippines to stage a bubble event via the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup in September 2020.

Already, Clark has played host to two major events – last year’s PBA Bubble and the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers held from June 16 to 20.

Amidst Covid-19 challenges, the Bases and Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) and its subsidiary Clark Development Corp. (CDC) in coordination with the national government and local governments of Pampanga and Angeles City hosted the historic PBA Bubble. Patterned after the successful NBA bubble, the setup allowed for the 2020 PBA Season’s only conference to resume after it was shelved in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak and quarantine restrictions around the country. It ran for almost three months.

As to the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers’ third window, it also marked the first time for the country to host a global event during the pandemic.

In the bubble setup, the movement of players, coaches and staff are restricted to the airport, their respective hotels, and the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center where the games are held.

Quest Plus Conference Center, Clark, located at Filinvest Mimosa + Leisure City, Clark Freeport Zone, was home to most delegates in both sports events.

Besides room and repast, the management made sure that health standard protocols as set by the Covid-19 Inter-Agency Task Force were strictly observed.

But even before the delegates arrived, all the staff, who were also housed in the hotel, had already been tested for Covid-19.

There was a tick list for the safety of visiting athletes and their entourage, organizers and hotel employees: health screening, digital contact tracing and bags disinfection before delegates were allowed entry to the hotel; RT-PCR testing and quarantine while waiting for the results; -re-swabbing every 2-3 weeks (PBA) and on the fourth day (FIBA); medical (hotel nurses, CDC Health and Sanitation Office, The Medical City Clark, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Medical Center Clark) and security (hotel security staff, CDC and LGU) personnel working round the clock; packed meals delivered to the rooms or managed buffet serving of meals; regular cleaning and disinfection, appropriate PPE for workers, thermal scanners, foot baths, hand-sanitizing stations, etc.

“I think the bubble events were fairly successful because of the close coordination among stakeholders. The BCDA, CDC, PNP, PBA, Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas, and FIBA were in constant communication to ensure the smooth flow of the events,” says Quest Plus Conference Center, Clark PR and Communications Manager Renzelle “Sey” Ann Palma.

“Of course, our commitment is to make hotel guests feel comfortable and safe during their stay. And so is protecting our 200-plus in-house employees. We made sure everyone stays within the bubble.”

Palma adds: “Bubble events and tournaments are in the pipeline for us. We just had the Olympic swimming team of Israel on the last leg of their practice for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. We are also in talks with them about hosting their team for the Paralympics. There’s another bubble event being discussed, for volleyball this time.”

With the pandemic weighing us down, it could take a while before we can see actual games. Until then, we create a controlled environment of accommodations, amenities and venues where athletes can reside and compete away from the general public.

Meanwhile, the rest of the country watches as Clark City rises to the occasion, ready for more.