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Request to prioritize national athletes in vaccination list approved

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has given its nod to prioritize national athletes seeing action in key international tournaments this year for vaccination against the coronavirus.

This was announced by Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque in his press briefing on Friday, allowing for the early vaccination of national athletes and coaches set to compete in the Tokyo Olympics and the Hanoi 31st Southeast Asian Games.

The IATF included the national athletes, coaches, delegates and officials to both events in the Priority Group A4.

“The IATF approved the recommendation to the Interim National Immunization Technical Advisory Group to prioritize the vaccination of athletes, coaches, delegates, and officials bound for the Tokyo Olympics and the Southeast Asian Games,” Mr. Roque said.

The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) and the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) made the request to allow the athletes to train better and with less worries with the end view of having the best possible representation in the targeted sporting events.

Also approved by the IATF is the training of national sports associations for the SEA Games but in adherence to guidelines set by the POC, PSC, Department of Health, and the Games and Amusements Board.

The POC expressed its gratitude to the IATF for approving their request.

“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,” said POC President Abraham Tolentino in a statement.

The welcome development came on the heels of the recent announcement by the Vietnam SEA Games Organizing Committee that a “no vaccine, no participation” policy will be in effect in the Hanoi Games.

Eight Filipinos to date have qualified for the Olympics, namely, pole-vaulter EJ Obiena, gymnast Caloy Yulo, boxers Eumir Felix Marcial, Irish Magno, Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam, weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, and rower Cris Nievarez.

Mr. Marcial has gotten two doses of the vaccines while he was in the United States while Ms. Diaz got her first shot in Malaysia two weeks ago.

The Olympics in Tokyo happens from July 23 to Aug. 8

The POC, meanwhile, earlier said it intends to send 626 athletes competing in 39 sports in Hanoi, which will take place from Nov. 21 to Dec. 2. – Michael Angelo S. Murillo

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