MANILA, Philippines – Some high-paid elite athletes are reluctant to get a jolt and vaccinate themselves against COVID-19.
The Philippine team will not face such animosity when Filipino athletes prepare for the 31st Southeast Asian Games.
“All of our athletes have been fully vaccinated and I believe they also took booster shots,” assured Ramon Fernandez, commissioner of the Philippine Sports Commission.
The country’s Chef de Mission has confirmed that the 987-strong Philippine delegation of 646 athletes, 296 team officials and 45 National Olympic Committee representatives is protected from the virus once they land in Hanoi, Vietnam, where current cases of infection are around 50,000 a day.
However, these numbers came from 200,000 cases per day in mid-March.
“We just have to be really careful and follow the protocols that are there. I hope the number of cases will go down further when the games start, “said Fernandez.
Despite the skyrocketing COVID case, Vietnam will adopt a unique set of health and safety protocols, including allowing athletes and coaches to enter restaurants, shopping malls and parks in their respective area clusters without presenting athletes without vaccination certificates.
Fernandez expressed optimism that the Philippines would perform at a higher level in 39 games considering that Filipino athletes have been able to train.
After the Omicron wave subsided at the end of January, national sports organizations participating in the SEA Games on May 12-23 began training their national athletes in full blast as restrictions were relaxed.
“All our athletes are ready. They are in full readiness and I am sure we will witness a good level of competition in Vietnam, “said Fernandez, the driving force behind the Ramon S. Fernandez Sports and Youth Development Foundation and the Atletang Pilipino.
Fernandez added, “I’m confident they will be able to perform quite well there. They have already prepared for some time,” added Fernandez.
For the time being, spectators are not allowed to enter the venue of the game, but the organizers can finally open the gates once the events are reduced to manageable level.
“We have been informed that the organizers may allow visitors by then depending on the number of cases,” Fernandez said.
The Philippines won 149 gold, 117 silver and 121 bronze medals to win the overall title in the 2019 edition of the Games and yet a large portion of these medal winners will not be in Vietnam.
“I’m crossing my fingers that those who play in Hanoi will hold their gold medals and those silver and bronze performers will improve their output,” Fernandez said.
Fernandez added, “We are not the only victims (by the epidemic), other countries also have to deal with it.”
Athletes from football, kickboxing, diving, chess, handball, pancake silat, rowing and Quraysh are expected to settle in Hanoi before the opening ceremony on May 10 with the biggest wave of Filipino delegates.
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