MANILA – The Vietnam SEA Games Organizing Committee has imposed a requirement for all participating SEA Games athletes to undergo coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccination for them to be cleared to play.
This was confirmed by no less than Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Abraham Tolentino.
“Their policy [no vaccine, no participation policy] is for the good of everyone,” Tolentino said on Wednesday.
The decision was announced during the online SEA Games Federation meeting the day before.
This development means the 626-man Philippine team for the biennial meet scheduled from Nov. 21-Dec. 2 would have to be vaccinated first before heading to Hanoi.
But this also means all the athletes must be inoculated as soon as possible, which considering the current pace of vaccination is a thing of urgency.
“Most of the athletes from our Southeast Asian counterparts are already vaccinated and we’re the only country that is left behind,” Tolentino said. “But we already wrote the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) to prioritize the SEA Games-bound delegates. We’re ready to take any vaccine [brand].”
So far, only weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz and boxer Eumir Marcial have been inoculated with the Covid-19 vaccine.
Tolentino wants everyone would be vaccinated before they fly for Hanoi “or better yet, before the NSAs (national sports associations) start training their athletes face-to-face.”
The POC has a PHP1.9 million grant from the Olympic Council of Asia for the procurement of vaccines.
POC first vice president Al Panlilio of basketball assured that the vaccines will be quickly used once they arrive. (PNA)