Inoculation of national athletes and coaches bound for the Hanoi 31st Southeast Asian Games with anti-COVID-19 vaccine has become imperative after the Vietnamese organizers enforced a “no vaccine, no participation” policy in the November 21 to December 2 games.
The Vietnam SEA Games Organizing Committee made the announcement during an online SEA Games Federation meeting on Tuesday, according to Philippine Olympic Committee President Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino.
Tolentino said the Vietnamese organizers assured in the meeting that the SEA Games will push through but stressed the vaccine policy.
“Their policy [no vaccine, no participation policy] is for the good of everyone,” said Tolentino, who wrote the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to prioritize the inoculation of SEA Games-bound delegates, especially athletes and coaches.
“Most of the athletes from our Southeast Asian counterparts are already vaccinated and we’re the only country that is left behind. But we already wrote the IATF to prioritize the SEA Games-bound delegates. We’re ready to take any vaccine [brand].”
The POC intends to send 626 athletes to the SEA Games. They will participant in all but one of the 40 sports on the Hanoi program.
Tolentino said that the national sports associations (NSA) have received advice to identify the athletes who will have priority for the vaccination program.
“Before we fly to Vietnam, everyone should be vaccinated or better yet, before the NSAs start training their athletes face-to-face.”
Tolentino said the POC has a $40,000 (P1.9 million) grant from the Olympic Council of Asia for purchasing the vaccines.
POC first vice president Al Panlilio, who tasked to purchase the vaccines, assured that the entire delegation would be inoculated as soon as the vaccines are available.
Only Tokyo Olympics-bound athletes Eumir Felix Marcial and Hidilyn Diaz have already been vaccinated.