IATF grants request of vaccine rollout to Tokyo Games, SEAG-bound athletes

Published May 21, 2021, 2:03 PM

by Waylon Galvez

Philippine Sports Commission Chairman Butch Ramirez, left, and Philippine Olympic Committee President Bambol Tolentino (MB Photo / PNA Photo)

The national government has granted the request for national team athletes to get their vaccines for COVID-19 as the Inter-Agency Task Force elevated the Tokyo Olympics-bound and Southeast Asian Games athletes to the priority list in the nationwide vaccination program.

Top officials of the IATF arrived at the decision Thursday, May 20, following calls from the country’s sports leaders to vaccinate all athletes set to compete in the Tokyo Olympics and in the SEA Games.

Malacañang spokesman Harry Roque said Friday, May 21, that the vaccination procedure would likewise include coaches, officials and other delegates of the Philippine Team, which is now in the Priority Group A4 list of the government’s vaccination program.

In his announcement, Roque said: “The IATF approved the Technical Working Group recommendation to the Interim National Immunization Technical Advisory Group to prioritize the vaccination of athletes, coaches, delegates and officials bound for the Tokyo Olympics and the Southeast Asian Games.”

“Bring home the gold from Tokyo,” he added.

Roque also announced the resumption of bubble training camps of athletes participating in the Games in Japan and the biennial meet in Vietnam under the strict guidelines of the Joint Administrative Order (JAO).

JAO was crafted and updated by the tripartite agencies of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) with chairman Butch Ramirez, Games and Amusement Board (GAB) led by its chief Baham Mitra, and the Department of Health (DOH) with Secretary Francisco Duque III.

Ramirez has also requested the government assistance for athletes to get their vaccines since they are hoping to compete abroad as part of preparation for this year’s Tokyo Olympics and the SEA Games.

“I am happy for the athletes. They can now focus training for Tokyo Olympics and the SEA Games,” said Ramirez.

So far, the Philippine Team has eight Tokyo Olympics-bound athletes, led by weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, who will be making her fourth straight appearance in the Games, gymnast Carlos Yulo, pole vaulter EJ Obiena, rower Cris Nievarez, and boxers Eumir Marcial, Irish Magno, Carlo Paalam, and Nesthy Petecio.

Several more Filipino athletes are hoping to join the national team in the July 23 to August 8 Games via different Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in the coming weeks.

As for the SEA Games athletes, the Philippine Olympic Committee is planning to send 626 athletes to the Hanoi meet on Nov. 21 to Dec. 2. The organizing committee in Vietnam has made it clear on its policy of “no vaccine, no participation” in the region’s multi-sports event.

POC President Bambol Tolentino, also a congressman from the eighth district of Cavite, was among the country’s top sports officials that asked for the support of the government on vaccines.

Different national sports associations have been advised to identify the athletes that will be prioritized for the vaccination program.

“The entire sports community can now heave a sigh of relief with this approval,” said Tolentino. “With this good news, our athletes can now look forward to serious training and preparations for two major competitions.”