The Major Headache: Travel protocols plaguing the Singapore Major

KarY 2021-03-18 04:54:19
  ONE Esports Singapore Major is decked up and ready to take-off between March 27 to April 4, 2021, the most anticipated LAN event and the first DPC Major consisting of cross-regional competition nearly a year after Covid-19 hit the globe. However, recent developments have put a dent to the very spirit of the competition which is only a week away. Most recently, The National Task Force against Covid-19 (NTF) issued a temporary suspension on the entry of foreigners, Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW’s) as well as returning Filipinos who aren’t OFW’s, into the Philippines. The travel restrictions will be in place beginning March 20 and last until April 19, 2021, and in all likelihood will be extended further. In layman terms, if any individual from the Philippines is travelling to Singapore to attend the Major, he/she will be unable to travel back to the country before April 19. To make matters more difficult, the entry pass for Filipino players attending the Major will expire before the said date and as per the Singaporean Advisory Guidelines on Covid-19, anyone obtaining such a pass will be allowed to stay up to 14 days maximum. This directly puts Filipino teams and players in a precariously tough situation considering that their stay in Singapore will outlive the validity of their stay passes. Teams affected by this sudden imposition of restrictions are EG, Fnatic, Neon Esports and T1; all of whom have Filipino players in their roster. Esports Heaven was able procure information in regards to the latest developments surrounding the entire issue.   The Philippine Hurdle At present, players from SEA are playing from their homes as opposed to a team-house and are scattered over different regions across SEA. The org most affected is Neon Esports which houses a full Filipino roster while Fnatic and T1 house two Filipino players each, with EG housing only one.
Related: Neon Esports Manager interview on Singapore Major
SEA teams are in talks with the Games and Amusement Board (GAB), a government agency in the Philippines that handles professional athletes. The GAB is trying to help through communicating with authorities such as the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and Department of Health (DOH), to determine whether the government can make an exception in regards to the players’ return trip back to the Philippines. As per the latest development, GAB is doing their best to lend as much support as possible and will provide teams with endorsement letters. “They [GAB] are doing their best and they will continue doing their best. Latest development today is that they will give us an endorsement letter which we will be able to collect next Tuesday [March 23, 2021] but it is unclear if it is enough, even though their endorsement letters hold immense value,” a reliable source said on the condition of anonymity. “We don't want to stay in SG until the 19th because it might get extended. It is how these restrictions usually go,” revealed another source closely involved with the case. He continued, “The problem is the lack of coordination outside the sectors. The restriction is so new that when I started making calls to agencies who can help us, they themselves didn’t know who can help us.” In the absence of a proper protocol layout that would ensure that the Filipino players are able to return home safely, the orgs are scrambling hard and doing all they can to minimize the risk and come to a meaningful solution. A possible workaround would be allowing substitute players instead, however, it doesn’t seem plausible for two reasons: a) teams being prohibited from using any player that has played in the DPC Upper Division as a substitute, and b) if substitutions are allowed, it would be unfair to expect Neon Esports to swap out their entire roster with stand-ins. If worst comes to worst, then the only plausible option worth exploring is to have SEA teams play online -- an option the orgs are seriously taking into consideration. Hosting the Major online would ideally be the best way to move ahead without hindering the event. “We are still trying our best and we want to play online ideally if the paperwork doesn’t pan out,” a source said.   North America/South America Hurdle On the other hand, teams from North America and South America are also plagued with problems of their own in regards to the Major. Before we get into further details, let’s understand the basic outlay: In order to enter Singapore, teams need: (1) a preflight Polymerase Chain Reaction test (PCR) taken within 72 hours of either departure or the beginning of the last leg of their flight, if the total flight duration is more than 24 hours. (2) the PCR test must come from an approved or accredited laboratory and, (3) its results and information must be in English. There has been some difficulty being absolutely certain of all three conditions, particularly for people travelling from North and South America. In many cases their actual turnaround times may be as little as 40 hours or less, especially South America where obtaining PCR results in English might pose a challenge as not all labs in the region are equipped to provide results in the said language. In hindsight, there’s no real fix to the North and South America situation as they will need to do their due diligence and make it to the event by adhering to the strict and stringent Singaporean laws. Stay tuned for latest updates.
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