MANILA, Philippines -- The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) should be able to provide COVID-19 vaccines for the country's delegation to the Tokyo Olympics, according to POC president Abraham "Bambol" Tolentino.
Tolentino said Tuesday that he expects the Philippine delegation to Tokyo to be composed of 100 persons at the maximum, and that it will be "very doable" for the POC to procure vaccines for all of them.
"Tuloy lang ang mga atleta, huwag manghihinaan ng loob," Tolentino said at the first Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum session of the year.
"And, of course, with the vaccine in sight, kaya ngang mag-procure ng POC ng vaccine kung tutuusin for those Olympic-bound. Iilan lang naman 'yan, pati mga delegates," he added.
The Philippines currently has four qualifiers to the Tokyo Olympics -- pole vaulter EJ Obiena, gymnast Carlos Yulo, and boxers Eumir Marcial and Irish Magno. Sports officials are projecting that at least 11 more Filipino athletes can secure berths in the Summer Games.
Counting the athletes' coaches and national sports officials, Tolentino believes the Philippine delegation to Tokyo will reach 100 persons.
"Doable, kayang-kaya," the congressman said of providing vaccines for all of them.
The budget should not be an issue, according to Tolentino, even if they procure vaccines for all national athletes and coaches, and not just those who are heading to the Tokyo Olympics.
"Kung Sinovac na P2,900, that's only P2.9 (million)," he said. "We're talking of 1,000 (pesos). If we're talking of 10,000 athletes, that's only P10 (million). Very doable 'yun. Hindi pinag-uusapan ang pambayad."
"Definitely, kung para sa athletes 'yun, there will be some sponsors on this," he added. "Kaya ng POC and other stakeholders, kayang-kaya. Kasi ang pinakamahal nga niyan, P2,900. Pero iba P1,000, 'yung iba P500, 'yung iba P600. So definitely, kaya."
The bigger concern is the supply of the vaccine, he admitted. At the moment, the national government has yet to announce which brand of vaccine will be procured. Several local government units, however, have already set their own budgets to purchase doses of the vaccine.
This will help in providing vaccines for national athletes, said Tolentino.
"Like what other LGUs pronounced, like Makati -- if you're living in Makati, free lahat 'yung vaccine mo. So kung meron tayong 300 athletes na taga roon, definitely covered na 'yun," he pointed out.
In case the national government cannot provide the vaccine in time, Tolentino said they are ready to work with the private sector, including Joey Concepcion of RFM Corporation and the Ayala Corporation.
"Pwede tayong maki-usap na pwede kaming sumulat, ang POC, na can we get a portion for the (athletes)," said Tolentino. "Not only for Tokyo-bound but for the qualifiers. It's a matter of 200 pieces, 'di naman lalampas sa ganoon."
"And 200 pieces, kinompute ko na kanina, it's only how much, 'di ba? Doable," he stressed.