Tolentino POC president Bambol Tolentino

Pinoy athletes to get jab on Friday

May 26, 2021 People's Tonight 291 views

VACCINES for Filipino delegation bound for both the Tokyo Olympics and the Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam will begin its rollout over the weekend.

Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino announced the well-timed news Tuesday during the online session of the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum, saying the inoculation is set this Friday at the Manila Prince Hotel along San Marcelino St. in Manila.

The proceedings start from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will be witnessed by Secretary Carlito Galvez, Chief Implementer of the National Task Force against COVID-19, Department of Health (DoH) Secretary Francisco Duque III, and Secretary Vince Dizon, the country’s COVID-19 testing czar.

“Alam po natin na inaprubahan na yung prioritization ng vaccination ng Olympic-bound at SEA-Games-bound delegates ng IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force). At ang good news po ngayon ay inaprubahan na rin ang ating vaccination day on Friday, exclusive for Olympic-bound delegates and SEA Games-bound delegates,” said Tolentino in the weekly Forum.

“Rollout begins on Friday,” he added.

“Magpa-bakuna na po tayo.”

The development couldn’t have come at a better time for national team members

During the SEA Games Federation meeting last week, the Hanoi Organizing Committee 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 IATF last May 18 asking for the prioritization of athletes and coaches to be vaccinated. Two days later, the request of the POC was given an approval.

Meanwhile, vaccination is not required in the Tokyo Olympics as reiterated by International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach.

Nonetheless, the POC chief encouraged all members of the Philippine team qualified to both international meets, including para athletes, to have themselves inoculated whatever brand may be administered, especially those who are currently in Manila.

“Sa nangyayaring surge sa India, in the entire world, ngayon nga nag-uunahan nang magpa-bakuna. Palagay ko wala nang agam-agam at tsaka wala nang pilian yan kung anong brand,” said the representative of the 8th district of Cavite in the session presented by San Miguel Corporation (SMC), MILO, Amelie Hotel Manila, Braska Restaurant, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).

Tolentino, also head of the Integrated Cycling Federation of the Philippines (Philcycling), 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 added in the same Forum powered by Smart and Upstream Media as official webcast partner.

“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 the POC 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, 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.

“So nakabitin pa ng kaunti yung iba (NSA). Pero yung iba pong available na yung names, puwede ng i-submit yun sa POC,” said the congressman, who estimated the Philippine contingent to the SEA Games at around 600-plus personnel 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.