Elite nat’l athletes get vaccine first
The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) sees multiple sources to procure the COVID-19 vaccine for the national athletes.
POC president Abraham Tolentino said priority would be given to athletes who would go through Olympic qualifying tournaments overseas and those who already punched their tickets to the Tokyo Games.
Outside of these Olympic hopefuls, Tolentino added that athletes who will compete in the coming Asian Indoor and Martial Games in Thailand on May 21-30 might likewise receive the vaccine ahead of the others.
“We are not even talking about the funds needed to purchase the vaccine. Sponsors will come in and our athletes will be covered,’’ Tolentino said during the Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum on Tuesday.
The Cavite representative and newly elected Integrated Cycling Federation of the Philippines head explained that the government is bound to procure the vaccine for the entire populace and the athletes would certainly be included in the pecking order.
“The PSC (Philippine Sports Commission) is capable of helping us get the vaccine for Olympic-bound athletes, the national government will provide that for us,’’ said Tolentino, confident that all athletes from the national pool would be inoculated from the dreaded virus.
“The POC can go out of its way to get the vaccine because even the private sector can make a purchase,’’ he added.
Over a thousand athletes from at least 50 sports comprise the national training pool, which will see action in several multisport tournaments this year, including the Southeast Asian Games in Vietnam and Asian Youth Games in China. Both are scheduled in November.
Tolentino is also chasing another legacy aside from finally seizing the elusive gold medal from the coming Tokyo Olympics.
“Besides the gold medal [in the Olympics], this is the dream that I want to achieve in my next four years,’’ Tolentino said.
“It will stand as a concrete symbol of the Olympic movement in the Philippines.’’
Tolentino rued the fact that for the past 110 years, the POC hasn’t had a property that the organization recognized by the International Olympic Committee can house its offices, boardroom and a museum, among others.
“It’s sad, but we are like informal settlers without a permanent address. I think we are just one of the few or the only one [from among the countries who participate in the Olympics] without a permanent office building,’’ Tolentino said.
For now, the POC is sitting on an office space provided for by the PSC in a building inside PhilSports Complex in Pasig City.
The POC has been in that situation since it was created in 1911 when it was still known as the Philippine Amateur Athletic Federation, which was renamed to the POC in 1975.
Tolentino said he would appeal to the national government through Sen. Bong Go, the Senate committee on sports chair, to help the POC find an available lot inside the Cultural Center of the Philippines Complex. INQ
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