Bambol assures free vaccination of national athletes

Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Bambol Tolentino believes budget will not be an issue in providing free COVID-19 vaccinations for national athletes.

The idea is doable as far as the Tagaytay City representative is concerned since there are only more than 1,000 athletes in the national delegation.

The only main concern is how to procure these vaccines with other countries also scrambling for supplies.

“Di na pinag-uusapan ang pambayad diyan because definitely, the government will procure for the entire population. Ang pinag-uusapan lang naman diyan kung sino ang mauuna,” said Tolentino in Tuesday’s Philippine Sportswriters Association Online Forum.

Tolentino said this is where the POC will step in and request the government to give priorities to athletes.

“Importante dyan yung pag-procure, yung supply talaga. But I'm sure na mabibigyan naman ng supply mga atleta natin, kahit man lang dun sa mga Olympic qualifiers muna,” he said.

Tolentino said they could also procure vaccines privately with the approval of the government, at least for qualifiers to the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.

The POC will also request different national sports associations to disseminate information on the vaccine to educate athletes.

So far, the country has four qualifiers to the Olympics set July 23 to Aug. 8, but both the POC and the Philippine Sports Commission are expecting around 15 athletes to earn berths with various qualifiers scheduled in the coming months.

Meanwhile, Tolentino said they are looking at getting a permanent office building for POC officials.

“Para naman magkamukha yung POC,” he said, adding that they have been using the facilities inside the Philsports Complex in Pasig City for the past years.

Tolentino also said the POC will be asking NSAs of their training plans particularly for athletes competing in immediate tournaments like the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games in Thailand this May and other Olympic qualifiers.