COMPLIED, UNCERTIFIED

UP-Mindanao claims track oval complied with standards

The University of the Philippines-Mindanao said the track oval inside the sprawling campus in Barangay Mintal has “complied” with international standards but has not applied for certification as the facilities for athletics are not yet complete.

“As the university has not been contacted for comment on the issues raised in the article, the University of the Philippines (UP) Mindanao wishes to present information that will be valuable for the public to make an informed assessment of the situation at hand,” the UP statement released on Tuesday read. 

The statement came as a response to a special report by Edge Davao entitled “Field of Failure” published on November 24-25 which stated that the track oval did not pass the standards of regular international competitions set by the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF), the same standards used by the country’s member federation Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association (PATAFA).

The Edge Davao report came after several coaches and athletes have noted the irregular slopes and absence of jumping and throwing concessions in the track oval. Some members of the sports media have also sought clarification of its status during the 2019 Palarong Pambansa hosted by Davao City where the newly-constructed track oval was not used for competitions after the PATAFA reportedly found it substandard. 

Instead, the PATAFA-compliant track oval of the privately-owned University of Mindanao was used as venue for all running, throwing and jumping disciplines of athletics while the UP-Mindanao’s inner concession of the track oval was used for football events. The UP-Mindanao facility also hosted archery.

UP-Mindanao explained that the entire Sports Complex is a “collaborative effort between the City Government of Davao and the University of the Philippines, in consultation with the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).”
“The creation of the facility is in line with the City Government of Davao’s vision to make “Davao City a regional hub for sports in Mindanao and Asia” and UP’s mandate as the national university to “undertake and support comprehensive sports programs that promote physical education, uphold excellence and encourage competitive participation in sports activities, instill school identity and solidarity, cultivate pride, self-discipline and teamwork which serve as a foundation for fostering active participation in the national university, as well as in nation building,” the statement continued.

According to the state-run university, Davao City−UP Sports Complex is jointly managed by the City Government and UP Mindanao. 

ead, the PATAFA-compliant track oval of the privately-owned University of Mindanao was used as venue for all running, throwing and jumping disciplines of athletics while the UP-Mindanao’s inner concession of the track oval was used for football events. The UP-Mindanao facility also hosted archery.

UP-Mindanao explained that the entire Sports Complex is a “collaborative effort between the City Government of Davao and the University of the Philippines, in consultation with the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).”
“The creation of the facility is in line with the City Government of Davao’s vision to make “Davao City a regional hub for sports in Mindanao and Asia” and UP’s mandate as the national university to “undertake and support comprehensive sports programs that promote physical education, uphold excellence and encourage competitive participation in sports activities, instill school identity and solidarity, cultivate pride, self-discipline and teamwork which serve as a foundation for fostering active participation in the national university, as well as in nation building,” the statement continued.

According to the state-run university, Davao City−UP Sports Complex is jointly managed by the City Government and UP Mindanao. 

The statement also debunked the report that there were no consultations made with the PSC. “Throughout the process of developing the Sports Complex, the PSC has always been engaged considering that the construction of the facility aligns with their vision to create “a sporting culture that nurtures healthy, disciplined and peaceful citizens setting the Filipino athlete at par with the world’s best” and their programs to “make sports accessible” and “erect new sports facilities at par with global standards.” For the track oval, PSC engineers and architects have regularly inspected and monitored the project.” 

PSC deputy executive director Atty. Guillermo Iroy Jr. told Edge Davao that the consultations made with former PSC engineering head Architect Noel Ernal did not progress as the latter’s recommendations were not followed. Ernal, Iroy said, told him UP-Mindanao wanted a football pitch inside the oval as concession, hence the “double bend” design.

PSC chairman William “Butch” Ramirez also confirmed to Edge Davao that he heard that it’s not compliant to IAAF norms that is why the UM facility was used in the Palaro. “Something is short,” he said. Ramirez said he will find out the facts from the university.

However, UP-Mindanao maintained that they complied with the specifications of the IAAF. “The university would like to assure the public that the contractor of the civil works for the oval has indeed complied with the specifications of the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) as published in the IAAF Track and Field Manual 2008 edition and that the installer of the synthetic track is certified as a service provider by the IAAF. Every phase in the site preparation and actual installation of the track oval has been subjected to rigorous measurements in line with the said standards.”

It also defended the observations on the irregular sloping of the track saying it is allowed by the IAAF manual.

As regards the observation of Ernal regarding the double bend track, UP-Mindanao said: “the creation of a “double bend” track oval is permissible based on IAAF rules. To quote from the manual: “It is normal for an athletics track to be used for other sports. Generally, this involves using the interior of the 400m tracks as a pitch for soccer, American football or rugby.

Obstacle-free sports areas in the segments at the same level as the playing field without kerbs over which sportsmen could stumble can be included in the safety zones.” 

“The manual then provides specifications for “double bend” ovals, and the one in the Sports Complex has complied with these specifications as evidenced by the plans available at the university’s Campus Planning and Development Office,” the statement continued.  

The university said “the decision to integrate the football field with the track oval was done for practical reasons to address limited space and budget. It would have been more costly to have two separate stadiums for football and track and field. Moreover, the use of artificial turf for the football field was done because natural grass will require 10,000 L of water twice a day to maintain, which is counter to the green initiatives promoted by the university.”

As a result of the decision to make a football pitch concession, “throwing events cannot be held within the stadium as the impact of objects hitting the artificial turf will damage it considerably; hence, a throwing and archery field is being constructed adjacent to the stadium. Jumping events may also be integrated outside the track oval at a later date, but the university currently does not have the budget to develop the area allotted for these events.”

“During the Palarong Pambansa last April 2019, the open area for jumping and throwing found adjacent to the stadium was not yet finished; hence, the organizers decided to hold archery matches there instead and hold all football matches in the football field. The track and field events were transferred to the University of Mindanao facility in order to have all related events such as running, throwing, and jumping in one venue,” UP-Mindanao explained.  

As to the throwing and jumping events concessions, the university explained that the adjacent throwing field is ongoing construction (i.e., civil works is not yet completed and additional budget is required for the installation of game surfaces).”

Finally, the university admitted it has not sought an IAAF certification yet as the facilities for throwing and jumping are not yet completed. The cost for certification, it claimed, is approximately P1.5 million.

A check by Edge Davao on the IAAF Certification procedures revealed that a certification for Class 1 status is USD10,000 or roughly P508,550 for IAAF Class 1 Athletics Facility Certificate (For competition facilities conforming in all respects with the requirements of IAAF Competition Rule 140. It is a full certificate covering all technical aspects of the facility) and USD 2,000 for IAAF Class 2 Athletics Facility Certificate (For competition facilities in which the in-situ tests for compliance with the IAAF Track and Runway Synthetic Surface Testing Specifications have not been performed but where the synthetic surface has a valid IAAF Product Certificate and where the facility conforms to the stringent requirements for accurate measurement contained in IAAF Competition Rules) or roughly P101,705.

Likewise the IAAF Certification System Procedures Manual showed that in Section 2.1.5, “Some IAAF Member Federations have already put technical certification procedures in place that regulate and certify facilities in their own countries. Where these procedures are considered adequate, IAAF may recognise certificates issued by these Member Federations as adequate for issue of certificates, but IAAF reserves the right to re-evaluate such facilities.”

This means the PATAFA, like what it did with the UM athletics facility, may certify compliance based on its standards as IAAF member-federation.