House panel adopts reso prioritizing COVID-19 vaccination for athletes bound for Olympics, SEA Games

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Metro Manila (February 23, CNN Philippines) — Filipino athletes bound for the Tokyo Olympics and 2021 Southeast Asian Games may just be among the first to receive COVID-19 vaccines in the country.

On Tuesday, the House Committee on Youth and Sports Development adopted House Resolution No. 1507 which urged the government to prioritize national athletes in the country’s COVID-19 vaccination program by classifying them as frontliners.

Among them are athletes who have already qualified and those still vying to book their slots to the Summer Games in July and the SEA Games in Vietnam this November.

During the committee hearing, Isabela representative and committee chairman Faustino Michael Dy III said they will be submitting an official appeal to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Department of Health to put national athletes bound for international competitions on the same level as health workers, senior citizens, police and military.

Last month, deputy speaker and 1-Pacman party-list Rep. Michael Romero filed the resolution which he says will be beneficial to Filipino athletes as it would allow them to prepare earlier and participate in qualifying tournaments.

“I thank our esteemed colleagues in the committee on sports and youth development for sharing my vision and supporting my goal of helping our Olympians bring home the country’s first Olympic gold despite the challenges they face during this pandemic,” Romero said.

“This is a chance of a lifetime for our athletes and the country to win an Olympic gold. And we lawmakers can help make it happen by mitigating the challenges facing our athletes, including the necessary vaccination for their participation in the event,” he added.

The Philippine Olympic Committee and Philippine Sports Commission also expressed their support to the resolution, as they anticipate the country’s delegation to the Tokyo Olympics to reach around 60 to 100 athletes, coaches, and officials.

So far, four Filipinos have already qualified to the quadrennial meet, including pole vaulter EJ Obiena, gymnast Carlos Yulo, and boxers Eumir Marcial and Irish Magno.

But more than fifteen athletes are still in the running, including weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, boxer Nesthy Petecio, golfers Yuka Saso and Bianca Pagdanganan, sprinters Eric Cray and Kristina Knott, and skateboarder Margielyn Didal.

Meanwhile, athletes with disabilities bound for the Tokyo Paralympics have also been included in the resolution as they anticipate sending a 12- to 15-man delegation.

The health department, however, stressed that recommendations must be made to the IATF for approval in order for national athletes to be reclassified as frontliners.