Vaccine mandatory for Vietnam SEAG athletes

Vaccine mandatory for Vietnam SEAG athletes

MANILA, Philippines – Members of Team Philippines would have to be vaccinated for them to be allowed to compete in the 31st Southeast Asian Games set November 21 to December 2 in Hanoi, Vietnam.

The “no vaccine, no participation” policy was issued by the host Vietnamese during an online SEA Games Federation (SEAGF) meeting attended by Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Abraham Tolentino last Tuesday.

“Their policy is for the good of everyone,” said Tolentino, who has already written the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to prioritize the inoculation of SEA Games-bound delegates, especially athletes and coaches.

“Most of the athletes from our Southeast Asian counterparts are already vaccinated and we’re the only country that is left behind,” Tolentino said. “But we already wrote the IATF to prioritize the SEA Games-bound delegates. We’re ready to take any vaccine [brand].”

The country is fielding in about more or less a thousand delegation members to Hanoi including 626 athletes seeing action in all but one of the 40 sports in the calendar.

The Tagaytay Congressman and PhilCycling chief said he had advised national sports associations (NSA) to identify the athletes who will be prioritized for the vaccination program.

“Before we fly to Vietnam, everyone should be vaccinated. Or better yet, before the NSAs start training their athletes face-to-face,” he said.

The Task Force in charge of vaccines, which is chaired by POC first vice-president and Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Al Panlilio, is already in the process of procuring vaccines using the $40,000 (P1.9 million) grant from the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA).

Deputy Speaker Mikee Romero and Senators Francis Tolentino and Bong Go have also supported calls to prioritizing national athletes for vaccination.

Interestingly, Tokyo Olympics-bound boxer Eumir Marcial and weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz have already received jabs in the United States and Malaysia, respectively, ahead of everyone.

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