MANILA, Philippines -- The government has approved the vaccination of all Philippine national athletes, including those who will not compete in the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam later this year.
This, according to Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Rep. Abraham "Bambol" Tolentino, who welcomed the "great news" for the national athletes.
The development comes three days after SEA Games- and Olympic Games-bound athletes were inoculated at the Prince Hotel in Manila.
"We thank the government for putting priority on our athletes and coaches for the vaccine rollout," said Tolentino.
There are close to 1,600 athletes and coaches in the national team and pool on the Philippine Sports Commission roster. The list includes the SEA Games-bound athletes and para athletes.
More than half of the 730 SEA Games-bound athletes who registered for vaccination got their first dose of the Sinovac vaccine on Friday. Most of those who were not inoculated are either in the provinces or abroad.
"The next round of vaccinations will also include those athletes and coaches who missed last Friday's vaccination," said Tolentino.
"And this -- the absolute vaccination of all national athletes, whether or not they are going to Hanoi -- is a relief for Philippine sports," he added.
The date and venue for the next round of vaccinations will be announced soon.
Among those who were inoculated last Friday were members of the Gilas Pilipinas men's basketball team, including coach Jong Uichico.
"We already have a peace of mind and protection finally from the virus after this vaccination," the coach said. "We can now train confidently."
The men's basketball team is headed to Clark, Pampanga in June for the third and final window of the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 qualifiers, after which they will fly to Belgrade, Serbia for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.