Filipino delegates bound for the Tokyo Olympics and the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam are set to be inoculated later this week.
Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Bambol Tolentino made the huge announcement Tuesday in the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum, saying that it is set on Friday at the Manila Prince Hotel along San Marcelino.
“Ang good news po ngayon ay in-aprubahan na rin ang ating vaccination day on Friday, exclusive for Olympic-bound delegates and SEA Games-bound delegates,” said the lawmaker in the weekly Forum.
This is indeed a welcome development for the national athletes, especially those who are set to play in the SEA Games.
The Vietnam SEA Games Organizing Committee, in the SEA Games Federation meeting last week, announced a ‘No vaccine, No participation’ policy for all athletes and officials seeing action in the Nov. 21 to Dec. 2 biennial meet.
The rule prompted Tolentino to write a letter to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) last May 18 asking for the prioritization of athletes and coaches to be vaccinated. The request of the POC was approved two days later.
“‘Yung sulat po natin nung May 18, after two days inaprubahan po nila,” he shared in the session powered by SMART and presented by San Miguel Corp., MILO, Amelie Hotel Manila, Braska Restaurant, and PAGCOR.
“Kadugtong po yan ng announcement ng Vietnam na ‘no vaccine, no participation’ policy so pasalamat po tayo sa national government at inaprubahan ‘yung request po natin na mabakanuhan na.”
Vaccination in the Summer Games, meanwhile, isn’t required as reiterated by International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach. But Tolentino encouraged all national athletes to take the much-needed jabs.
“Sa nangyayaring surge sa India, in the entire world, ngayon nga nag-uunahan nang magpa-bakuna. Palagay ko wala nang agam-agam at wala nang pilian ‘yan kung anong brand,” said the representative of the 8th district of Cavite.
Tolentino, also the Philcycling chief, understands if there would be those who remain hesitant about being vaccinated, but stressed that refusing to do so would also mean forfeiting their respective slots to compete in the SEA Games.
“Wala kaming magagawa, hindi ka makakasama sa list kung talagang ayaw mong magpa-bakuna. Hindi naman natin puwedeng puwersahin,” he said.
“So didisisyunan ng sports nila na mapapalitan ka kung ayaw mong magpa-bakuna. Hindi nga papapasukin (sa Vietnam), bakit pa natin ilalagay sa listahan.”
Tolentino said that the POC has already coordinated with various National Sports Associations (NSAs) to provide the local Olympic body with the partial list of their athletes bound for the SEA Games.
It is partial in the sense that there are other sports that will still be conducting their trials and qualifying tournaments through the National Opens in the coming weeks, the 57-year-old explained.
“Nakabitin pa ng kaunti yung iba (NSA). Pero ‘yung iba pong available na yung names, puwede ng i-submit ‘yun sa POC,” said Tolentino, who estimated the SEAG-bound contingent at around 600-plus competing in 39 sports events.
On the other hand, delegation to the Tokyo Games is easier to handle since less than 100 athletes, coaches, and officials could make up Team Philippines, which has so far qualified nine bets to the July 23 to August 8 event.
The NSAs also have to provide the names of athletes and coaches who are currently in the provinces in order for the POC to coordinate with the IATF and DoH for them to be vaccinated in their respective places instead.
“‘Yung mga nasa probinsya, kukunin po namin yung list. At ico-coordinate po namin sa IATF at DOH na dun na po sila bigyan sa probinsya nila,” he said.
‘Yun naman pong nasa abroad pa or pabalik pa sa mga training at sa qualifying aantayin din po namin yan.”