PH gov't to prioritize vaccination of athletes bound for Tokyo Olympics, SEA Games

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 21) — The government has approved proposals to prioritize the COVID-19 vaccination of Filipino athletes and officials before they head to the Tokyo Olympics and the Southeast Asian Games, pandemic task force and Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said on Friday.

Roque said the Inter-Agency Task Force allowed the early vaccination of those who will represent the country in these two major sporting events.

The Philippines has eight athletes who will compete in the Tokyo Games scheduled on July 23 to August 8: weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, pole vaulter EJ Obiena, gymnast Carlos Yulo, boxers Eumir Marcial, Irish Magno, Carlo Paalam, and Nesthy Petecio, and rower Cris Nievarez.

Only Diaz and Marcial have been vaccinated, according to the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC). Of the five other Olympic-bound athletes who haven't received their shots yet, only Nievarez is based in the Philippines.

The POC is also planning to send 626 athletes to the Hanoi SEA Games. The organizers of the games in Vietnam are imposing a "no vaccination, no participation" policy in the biennial sports meet scheduled to run from Nov. 21 to Dec. 2.

POC President Bambol Tolentino said the national sports associations have been advised to identify the athletes who will be prioritized for the vaccination program.

The official thanked the task force for placing competing athletes in the A4 priority group alongside essential workers.

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

Meanwhile, the IATF has allowed athletes representing the country in these two major sporting events to resume their bubble-type training subject to guidelines of the Philippine Sports Commission, the Games and Amusement Board, and the Department of Health.