MANILA - Senator Francis Tolentino on Sunday appealed to the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to include athletes in the priority list for the COVID-19 vaccine.
This, as Filipino athletes -- both amateur and professional -- remain excluded in the "A4" tier of the government in its on-going rollout of the vaccine.
Tolentino made his remarks as the Tokyo Olympics are just a little over two months away, while athletes bound for the 31s Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi this November have yet to train collectively.
"The athletes should also be prioritized as sports development should be part of the post-pandemic recovery process," Tolentino said in a statement. "The physical well-being of our athletes is reflective of the health of the nation."
The A4 priority list includes frontline personnel in essential sectors, including workers in groceries, supermarkets, delivery services; workers in hotels and accommodation establishments; and workers in private and government news media, among others.
So far, seven Filipino athletes have already qualified for the Tokyo Games set for July 23 to August 8: weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, pole vaulter EJ Obiena, gymnast Carlos Yulo, and boxers Eumir Marcial, Irish Magno, Nesthy Petecio, and Carlo Paalam.
Of the seven, Marcial is the only one who is fully-vaccinated, having gotten his jabs while training in Los Angeles. Diaz has also received her first dose in Malaysia.
A total of 626 athletes, meanwhile, were identified for Team Philippines to the Hanoi Sea Games.
Earlier, ports tycoon Enrique Razon pledged Moderna vaccines for the Philippine Olympic delegation, including administrative staff and media.
"The vaccines are in transit [for Olympics-bound athletes], but the problem is that all of our Olympic-bound athletes are training abroad," said Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Abraham "Bambol" Tolentino.
"We will try to contact our counterparts if it is possible to include our athletes in their countries' vaccination program," he added.
Yulo and Obiena have been training in Japan and Italy, respectively, for more than a year now while the boxers other than Obiena are in Thailand.
The Olympic Council of Asia also granted the Philippines $40,000 for the inoculation of SEA Games-bound athletes.
However, Tolentino stressed that professional athletes -- such those in the PBA and other professional leagues -- should also be included in the A4 priority tier of the IATF.
The IATF had earlier approved the PBA's request to hold full practices and scrimmages in areas under general community quarantine or modified general community quarantine.
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