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Following green light from Malacanang, POC to buy COVID-19 vax for SEAG athletes

POC president Bambol Tolentino finds the approval of private entities to buy COVID-19 vaccines as a "good news for Filipino athletes."
By Dugout Philippines

MANILA--The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) will procure Covid-19 vaccines in its capacity as a private entity for members of Team Philippines to the Hanoi 31st Southeast Asian Games.

POC president Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino made the announcement on Wednesday, just days after Malacanang allowed private companies to secure vaccines for their workforce.

“This is good news for Filipino athletes who will be competing in the Hanoi SEA Games,” Tolentino said. “Once they get inoculated, they can train with very little fear of getting infected.”

Tolentino said the POC will purchase the vaccine through a US$40,000 (around PHP1.95 million) subsidy from the Olympic Council of Asia.

Ports tycoon Enrique Razon earlier committed to Tolentino Moderna vaccines for the country’s representatives to the Tokyo Olympics.

The POC formed a 626-athlete strong (entry by numbers) Team Philippines that will compete in 39 of the 40 sports in the Hanoi SEA Games program. The Philippine Sports Commission approved of the figures and started deliberating on the team’s funding.

Tolentino also announced on Wednesday POC first vice president Al Panlilio’s appointment as chairman of the sports body’s task force on Covid-19 vaccine procurement.

“It would be up to the task force what brand and when to start the procurement process,” Tolentino said. “Whichever is the first available vaccine that will be allowed for procurement, we will get. We cannot choose.”

The SEA Games are set from Nov. 21-Dec. 2.

Razon’s vaccines, Tolentino said, are expected in late May or early June.

Only men’s middleweight boxer Eumir Felix Marcial was inoculated with the vaccine in Los Angeles, California, where he has been training since October last year at Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Gym.

The other Olympic qualifiers—boxers Carlo Paalam, Nesthy Petecio, and Irish Magno, gymnast Carlos Yulo and pole vaulter EJ Obiena—have yet to be vaccinated.

PSC Commissioner Ramon Fernandez, who Tolentino named as chef de mission to the Vietnam SEA Games, welcomed the development.

“This is really a very good news for Philippine sports,” he said.

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