By KRISTEL SATUMBAGA
National athletes, coaches and officials bound for the Tokyo Olympics and the Vietnam Southeast Asian Games are scheduled to take their vaccine shots on Friday, May 28, at the Manila Prince Hotel.
Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Bambol Tolentino announced this Tuesday, May 25, after coordinating with government officials last week following health protocols in the two events particularly the “no vaccine, no participation policy” in the SEAG.
“We thank the government for this. We have been coordinating with sports officials with the list of athletes for the vaccination day,” Tolentino said during the Philippine Sportswriters Association Online Forum presented by San Miguel Corporation (SMC), MILO, Amelie Hotel Manila, Braska Restaurant, and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).
The proceedings will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will be attended by the country’s vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr., Department of Health (DOH) Sec. Francisco Duque III and COVID-19 testing czar Sec. Vince Dizon.
Tolentino is optimistic that all athletes will not have second thoughts on getting vaccinated, saying they are
educated enough about the procedures.
“Regardless of the brand, sabi nga nila, the best vaccine is the available vaccine,” he said.
Tolentino added another batch will be scheduled since some sports associations have yet to identify their SEAG-bound athletes through hosting national open competitions.
The POC will also coordinate with the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) and the DOH for athletes who are in the province so that they could get vaccinated at their respective local government units.
They are also coordinating on sports officials on how qualified athletes abroad can get inoculated.
Tolentino hopes all athletes going to the SEAG will be vaccinated before the submission of entry by names to the SEAG Organizing Committee in August or September.
Meanwhile, Tolentino is also confident the country will surpass the number of the 2016 Rio Olympians following the recent qualification of taekwondo jin Kurt Barbosa.
Barbosa became the ninth Filipino athlete to earn an Olympic berth where he will join pole vaulter EJ Obiena, gymnast Carlos Yulo, 2016 Rio Olympics silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz of weightlifting, rower Cris Nievarez and boxers Nesthy Petecio, Carlo Paalam, Irish Magno and Eumir Marcial.
“Definitely the 13 (Filipino athletes who competed in the 2016 Rio Games) will be surpassed. I’ve been praying for that,” Tolentino said.
Tolentino noted universality entries from athletics and swimming, as well as golf and skateboarding as among the sports that could increase the list of Filipino qualifiers.
He is also confident the Tokyo Games will push through.
“As a member of the IOC (International Olympic Committee), iisa ang direksyon namin na dapat matuloy ang Olympics. With all the counter-measures, kaya namang ituloy eh,” Tolentino said.
“Eto na rin yung malaking chance natin na magka-first gold medal tayo sa Olympics, bakit naman ako aayon sa gusto na i-cancel?”