National training director Marc Velasco said it’s going to be a big boost to the Philippine contingent once the government approves the vaccination against COVID-19 of athletes who have qualified in this year’s Tokyo Olympics.
Velasco said that the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) – led by its chairman Butch Ramirez – sent a notice to officials of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases (EID) regarding the possibility of vaccinating Filipino athletes going to the Olympics this July.
He said that the agency understands that health workers and elderlies are the priorities
“Hind namin sa sinasabi na mauuna ang atletea, of course may mga mas dapat tayong priority – sa medical field na health force natin, mg aka-pulisan at sundalo at siyempre mga seniors,” said Velasco.
“We sent our intention to the IATF that we’re asking for help when it comes to vaccines because we have the Tokyo Olympics coming up, and we also have other Olympic Qualifying Tournaments.”
“Of course kung mabibigyan it’s a big step towards – I wont say freedom of movement – but ma-mitigate natin yung effect ng virus in terms of how our athletes train and compete,” he added.
The government, headed by President Rodrigo Duterte, is in the process of procuring vaccines against COVID-19 from leading pharmaceuticals in the US, Europe and China.
In the next few months, the country is expected to start vaccinating individuals particularly the fronliners. If the athletes could be included in the list next to those at the frontline, Velasco said it’s going to be a big boost for members of the Philippine Team.
“We would welcome the government support, it’s going to be a big boost for sports,” he said.
As for the apprehension of some athletes on receiving the vaccine, he said that it’s still a choice of a person if he wants to get it or not. Velasco said the decision is still on the athletes.
“We cannot force individuals to be vaccinated,” he said.
“They will have their choice, it’s a personal decision if you want the vaccine or not. But generally, positive naman yung reception, but to those na may apprehension, we totally understand.”
So far, there are four Filipinos that have earned Olympic berths, including boxers Eumir Marcial and Irish Magno, gymnast Carlos Yulo and EJ Obiena (pole vault) in athletics.
There are other athletes hoping to join the national team, like Rio Olympics silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz in weightlifting and Nesthy Petecio in boxing.
There are other boxers, as well as athletes from taekwondo and karate, training in a bubble in Laguna for different OQT, while six fencers are set to leave for Ormoc City next month to prepare for the Asian Championship – an Olympic qualifier this April in South Korea.