Tokyo-bound athletes elated with vaccine efforts of nat'l government

Olympic-bound athletes boxer Eumir Felix Marcial, pole vaulter EJ Obiena, gymnast Carlos Yulo, boxer Irish Magno (Handout Photos)

Filipino athletes who have earned slots in the Tokyo Olympics this year are delighted by the government’s effort to have them vaccinated against COVID-19.

While there are some apprehensions particularly on the side effect of the vaccine, boxers Eumir Marcial and Irish Magno have expressed willingness to get the vaccine for them to continue with their normal training without any hesitation of being infected with the virus.

“Mas gusto namin yun kasi masakit na ilong na twice a week na swab test,” said Marcial on his recent guesting on The Chasedown sports show over CIGNAL TV’s One PH channel.

“Mas ok yun na isang tusok na lang.”

“Confident naman basta meron lang na mauna, huwag lang ako. Kung merong nauna OK lang, at pag makita ko na safe maman OK lang,” said Marcial in jest, even suggesting that pole vault’s EJ Obiena should be vaccinated first since he is the first Filipino to qualify in the Tokyo Olympics.

Marcial clinched an Olympic berth in the men’s boxing middleweight division through the Asia Oceania Olympic qualifiers in Amman, Jordan last March – the third Filipino to advance after Obiena and Carlos Yulo of gymnastics.

Read: PH sports officials still optimistic of Tokyo Games as virus cases spike

Magno joined the four when she earned her ticket via the same Asia Oceania Olympic qualifiers. She booked an Olympic berth when she advanced in the quarterfinal of the flyweight event of the tournament.

The 29-year-old Magno said she too is willing to have the vaccine.

 “Noong unang nalaman ko po na kaming mga athletes ay bibigyan ng vaccine for COVID-19 kinabahan po ako kasi siyempre hindi ko alam kung ano mga side effects sakin,” she said.

“Pero at the same time po masaya kasi at least may protection po kami lalo na may mga plano yung ABAP samin na mag-training abroad. Kaya nagpapasalamat po ako sa PSC na prioridad po kaming  mga athletes na mabigyan ng vaccine.”

Rio Olympics silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz of weightlifting said it’s important for athletes like her to get the vaccine since they will be going out of the country to join different tournaments prior to the Olympics.

The 29-year-old Diaz, who is currently training in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, still needs to compete in one more Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) to secure her spot in the Tokyo Olympics.

“Para sa akin tama lang din naman magpa-vaccine kami before the Olympics. Nandoon na ang fear pero kailangan kasi at maglalaro kame sa Olympics,” said Diaz Tuesday.

“Para sa akin kasi given na ang mag-vaccine lalo mago-Olympics. Siguro titignan muna namin ano the best vaccine at sana marami na choices sa market. By the time magpa-vaccine kami marami na sigurong (available) vaccines.”

Read: Return to normalcy a big question for sports in 2021

Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) chairman Butch Ramirez has said that it’s the agency’s priority to get the athletes vaccinated before they join various international tournaments, including the Olympics.

“Rest assured that we will take care of our athletes,” Ramirez said recently.

Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Bambol Tolentino shared the same sentiments with regards to the athletes getting vaccinated, adding that it’s a priority for the POC to procure the vaccines.

There are other Filipino athletes who are set to join Olympic qualifying meets this year, the reason why the PSC and the POC want to have them vaccinated before they compete abroad.

The government is in talks with some pharmaceutical companies from the US, Europe and China for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines and hopes to get those in the frontline like the health workers and authorities, as well as the elderly in hopes to contain the virus.