Romero wants athletes prioritized for COVID-19 vaccine

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 26 2021 04:07 PM | Updated as of Jan 26 2021 04:53 PM

Romero wants athletes prioritized for COVID-19 vaccine 1
Congressman Mikee Romero. Handout photo

MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) Deputy Speaker Mikee Romero of 1-Pacman partylist on Tuesday filed a resolution that will give elite Filipino athletes priority in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

Speaking at the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum on Tuesday morning, Romero said Filipino athletes -- particularly those who will compete in Olympic qualifiers in the coming months -- must be treated as frontliners.

"Today, I'm doing a House resolution to prioritize the Philippine athletes, especially itong mga lumalaban sa SEA Games as well as the Tokyo Olympics … na dapat bigyan sila ng vaccination," said Romero, also the head of the country's polo federation and owner of the NorthPort franchise in the PBA.

According to Romero, the vaccines should be available by March, with medical frontliners as well as members of the military and the police among those first in line to receive the jabs.

However, he wants the elite athletes who will represent the country in international events this year to also be among those prioritized.

"I'll put a resolution today, making our athletes as part of those frontliners, para mauna sila, ma-prioritize silang mabigyan ng mga vaccine," he said, stressing that these are the athletes who will compete in the Tokyo Olympics and the Southeast Asian Games later this year.

"Ang athletes natin, especially ang elite athletes, give so much pride to our country, and in fact lumalaban din sila," he explained. "So kumbaga, kailangang tawagin din silang frontliner because of their sacrifices sa bansa natin."

He filed House Resolution No. 1507 on Tuesday afternoon, which urges the Inter-Agency Task Force and appropriate government agencies "to classify national athletes who are vying for a slot in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics and Southeast Asian Games as frontliners, to prioritize their vaccination against COVID-19."

"It is imperative that our national athletes should be classified as frontliners, in order to prioritize their vaccination against COVID-19 in the soonest possible time, to ensure that they will be allowed to participate in the qualifying stages," said Romero in his resolution, noting that qualifying events will be held as early as April.

In the PSA Forum, Romero said he will coordinate with the Philippine Sports Commission and the Philippine Olympic Committee on how to vaccinate the elite athletes, some of whom are currently training at the Inspire Sports Facility in Calamba, Laguna.

Others, like weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, are training abroad ahead of their qualifying tournaments. 

Four Filipino athletes have already qualified to the Tokyo Games -- boxers Irish Magno and Eumir Marcial, pole vaulter EJ Obiena, and gymnast Carlos Yulo. Of the four, only Magno is training in the Philippines with the national team. 

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