SENATOR Francis Tolentino on Sunday made an appeal to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to have Filipino athletes, especially those seeing action in international competitions like the Olympics, included as essential workers in the government’s priority list to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.
The senator made the remarks as both amateur and professional athletes remain excluded in the “A4 Priority” of the government in its ongoing nationwide vaccine rollout.
He expressed concern over it since the Tokyo Olympics is fast approaching while other athletes are also looking to train for the 31st Hanoi Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games).
The rescheduled Olympics this year is set for July 23 to Aug. 8 while the SEA Games takes place from Nov. 21 to Dec. 3.
“The athletes should also be prioritized as sports development should be part of the post-pandemic recovery process,” Mr. Tolentino said in a statement. “The physical well-being of our athletes is reflective of the health of the nation.”
Of the seven athletes who have qualified so far for the Olympics, only boxer Eumir Felix Marcial (two jabs in the United States) and weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz (one in Malaysia) have been inoculated to date. A total of 626 athletes, meanwhile, were identified for Team Philippines to the Hanoi SEA Games.
The Philippine Olympic Committee President (POC) earlier announced that businessman Enrique Razon pledged Moderna vaccines for the Philippine Olympic delegation, including administrative staff and media.
“The vaccines are in transit [for Olympics-bound athletes], but the problem is that all of our Olympic-bound athletes are training abroad,” said POC President Abraham Tolentino. “We will try to contact our counterparts if it is possible to include our athletes in their countries’ vaccination program.”
Olympic-bound athletes EJ Obiena (pole vault) and Caloy Yulo (gymnastics) are training in Italy and Japan, respectively, while boxers Nesthy Petecio, Carlo Paalam, and Irish Magno are in Thailand.
The POC also allotted a $40,000 grant from the Olympic Council of Asia for the inoculation of the SEA Games-bound athletes.
Senator Tolentino also made the same appeal for professional athletes playing for different sports leagues.
Currently included in the A4 Priority list are frontline workers in commuter transport, wet and dry markets, food service, news media, education, specific government agencies, and overseas workers. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo