By Waylon Galvez
The government has granted the request of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) for national team athletes to get their vaccine shots against the coronavirus (COVID-19) due to two important events – the Tokyo Games this July and the Vietnam Games late this year.
This came after the Inter-Agency Task Force elevated the Tokyo Olympics-bound and Southeast Asian Games athletes to the priority list in the nationwide vaccination program.
Apart from the athletes, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Friday that coaches, officials and other delegates of the Philippine Team to two major sporting events will also be included in the Priority Group A4 list of the government’s vaccination program.
In his announcement, Roque said: “The IATF approved the Technical Working Group recommendation to the Interim National Immunization Technical Advisory Group to prioritize the vaccination of athletes, coaches, delegates and officials bound for the Tokyo Olympics and the South East Asian Games.”
“Bring home the gold from Tokyo,” he added.
Roque also announced the resumption of bubble training camps of athletes participating in the Games in Japan and the biennial meet in Vietnam under the strict guidelines of the Joint Administrative Order (JAO).
“The entire sports community can now heave a sigh of relief with this approval,” said Tolentino. “With this good news, our athletes can now look forward to serious training and preparations for two major competitions.”
Eight Filipinos have so far qualified for the Olympics but only boxer Eumir Felix Marcial has gotten two doses of the vaccines while he was in the US. Weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz got her first shot in Malaysia two weeks ago.
The other Tokyo-bound athletes—gymnast Carlos Yulo, rower Cris Niervaez, pole vaulter EJ Obiena and boxers Nesthy Petecio, Carlo Paalam and Irish Magno—have yet to be vaccinated. Except for Nievarez, all are based abroad.
On his part, Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Chairman Butch Ramirez said: “I’m happy for the athletes. They can now focus training for Tokyo Olympics and SEA games.”