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POC to make sure athletes will receive COVID-19 vaccine once made available

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Tiebreaker Times POC to make sure athletes will receive COVID-19 vaccine once made available News POC/PSC  Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum Coronavirus Pandemic Bambol Tolentino

The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) will be firmly lobbying that local sports be among the top priorities to have access to a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine if and when medication will already be available by next year. 

POC President Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino assured he will push for the coronavirus vaccine to be made available for Filipino athletes once it is finally developed, especially for those who are going to compete in the Tokyo Olympics.

“Definitely merong allocation diyan. Ilalaban natin ‘yun na i-priority natin ‘yung sports of course, because of the Olympics,” Tolentino said in the first-ever online session of the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum on Tuesday.

“Sa ngayon wala pang guidelines diyan, but we can (definitely) lobby for that because of the Olympics,” added the congressman from the 8th district of Cavite.

Following the outbreak of the pandemic, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee decided to postpone the Games for the summer of 2021.

Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe even declared that the presence of vaccines and effective treatments for COVID-19 are priorities in the staging of the Tokyo Olympics.

Tolentino definitely agrees, saying it would be too risky to proceed with the “Greatest Show on Earth” with no vaccine available yet for the pandemic.

“We’re one of those NOCs (National Olympic Committees) that’s hoping for a vaccine, pero mahirap din talaga kung matutuloy tapos wala rin naman palang vaccine. Mabigat ‘yun. Hindi pa natin alam ‘yung guidelines doon, may waiver ba diyan or what,” said the POC chief in the video conferencing presented by San Miguel Corp., Go For Gold, Amelie Hotel, Braska Restaurant, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), and powered by Smart.

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Hence, Olympic-bound atheletes and Filipino delegates should be among those given urgent access once the vaccine is available.

“Iilan lang naman ‘yan kung ibi-base sa number of delegates at doon sa nag-qualify,” said Tolentino. “Hindi natin pababayaan ‘yung mga atleta natin. Sigurado ako na mapa-priority ‘yung sports because of the Olympics, and it could even be extended to the (2021) Southeast Asian Games.”

So far gymnast Carlos Yulo, boxers Eumir Felix Marcial and Irish Magno, along with pole vaulter EJ Obiena have already earned berths at the Olympics. A host of other Filipino athletes are still vying for tickets to the Tokyo Games, led by 2016 Rio De Janeiro silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz.

Tolentino said there’s no more chance to postpone the Olympics anew if no vaccine is yet available by July of 2021.

“Last postponement na ‘yun. After that hindi na puwedeng mag-postpone, cancellation na kasunod niyan,” the POC chief added.

“Hopefully, we’re all praying that early next year or late this year, magkaoon na ng vaccine. That will be the only solution na matuloy (ang Olympics).”

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