730 athletes, coaches get first dose of COVID vaccines

A member of the national team receives her first dose of Sinovac vaccine at the Manila Prince Hotel Friday, May 28. (Photo by Manny Llanes)

National athletes, coaches and officials bound to the Tokyo Olympics and the Vietnam Southeast Asian Games got their first dose of vaccine against COVID-19 on Friday, May 28, at the Manila Prince Hotel.

Some 730 delegates registered for the one-day proceedings with Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Bambol Tolentino, Philippine Sports Commissioner Charles Maxey and COVID-19 testing czar Vince Dizon present.

“Itong mga atletang ito ang nagbigay satin ng parangal sa bansa. Tingin ko tama lang na tayo naman ang magbigay ng parangal sa kanila sa pamamagitan ng pagbigay sa kanila ng priority sa pagpapabakuna,” said Dizon.

“We are thankful to the government for allowing our athletes to get vaccinated,” Tolentino said.

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso also stopped by to check the proceedings, adding that the City of Manila is honored to host the event.

Manila Mayor Francisco 'Isko Moreno' Domagoso (2nd from right) answers the questions from the media during the rollout of Sinovac vaccines for national athletes and coaches on Friday, May 28, at the Manila Prince Hotel. With him are (left to right) Sec. Vince Dizon, the COVID-19 testing czar, PSC Commissioner Charles Maxey and Philippine Olympic Committee president Bambol Tolentino. (Photo by Manny Llanes)

“We are happy to be of service to the athletes. We are grateful and honored na pinagkatiwaalan ninyo ang Maynila para sa inyong pagpapabakuna,” Domagoso said.

Para-trackster Jerrold Mangliwan, who recently made the Paralympic standard time in the 400-meter T52 wheelchair race, became the first athlete to get the Sinovac vaccine.

“Nagpapasalamat po ako sa pagkakataong ito. Tiwala naman po ako sa gobyerno at confident naman po ako,” said Mangliwan, who is still waiting for the formal announcement of the World Para Athletics to formalize his Tokyo Paralympic stint.

Rower Cris Nievarez, one of the nine Olympic qualifiers, was also among those who got the early dose.

“Medyo nakakapanibago, at the same time kampante na po ako at mas protektado na po ako habang nagti-training,” Nievarez said.

Delegates arrived in batches for the whole day proceeding to practice social distancing.

Meanwhile, Tolentino said they are coordinating with various local government units for the vaccination of delegates based in the provinces.

The POC pushed for the prioritization of athletes’ vaccination following health protocols of the two events particularly the “no vaccine, no participation'' policy at the 31st SEAG.

The Tokyo Olympics is scheduled July 23 to Aug. 8 while the SEAG is set Nov. 21 to Dec. 2.