The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) expressed gratitude to the government for approving its request to prioritize national athletes and coaches for vaccination against Covid-19.
“The entire sports community can now heave a sigh of relief with this approval,” POC President Rep. Bambol Tolentino said.
“With this good news, our athletes can now look forward to serious training and preparations for two major competitions.”
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque announced on Friday that the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases allowed the early vaccination of national athletes and coaches who will see action in the Tokyo Olympics and the Hanoi 31st Southeast Asian Games.
The Olympics are due in eight weeks from July 23 to August 8 while the SEA Games are set from November 21 to December 2.
The IATF included the national athletes, coaches, delegates, and officials to both events in the Priority Group A4.
In announcing the approval on national television, Roque said: “Bring home the gold from Tokyo.”
Tolentino thanked the IATF for its quick response to the POC’s request to the agency in a letter sent to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III last May 18.
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, jin Kurt Barbosa, and boxers Nesthy Petecio, Carlo Paalam, and Irish Magno—have yet to be vaccinated. Except for Nievarez, all are based abroad.
The POC intends to send 626 athletes who will be competing in 39 of the 40 sports in the Hanoi SEA Games.
The IATF, Roque said, also approved the bubble-type training of athletes and coaches subject to the applicable guidelines of the Philippine Sports Commission, Games and Amusements Board and the Department of Health.