SEA Games

COVID-19 vaccine required for Vietnam SEA Games

TITLE DEFENSE. The Philippines enters the 2021 SEA Games as the defending champion.

Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

The Vietnam SEA Games organizers assure athletes that the regional biennial meet will push through

The 2021 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games organizers enforced a “no vaccine, no participation” policy in the November 21 to December 2 event to be staged in Hanoi.

The Vietnam SEA Games Organizing Committee made the announcement during an online SEA Games Federation meeting on Tuesday, May 18.

According to Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino, Vietnam assured athletes and officials that the regional biennial meet will push through, but stressed the need for the vaccine policy.

“Their policy (no vaccine, no participation) is for the good of everyone,” said Tolentino, who wrote the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to prioritize the inoculation of SEA Games-bound delegates, especially athletes and coaches.

“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 to prioritize the SEA Games-bound delegates. We’re ready to take any vaccine [brand].”

The POC intends to send 626 athletes to the SEA Games. They will participate in all but one of the 40 sports on the Hanoi program.

Tolentino said the national sports associations (NSA) have been advised to identify the athletes who will be prioritized for the vaccination program.

“Before we fly to Vietnam, everyone should be vaccinated,” Tolentino said. “Or better yet, before the NSAs start training their athletes face-to-face.”

Tolentino said the POC has a $40,000 (P1.9 million) grant from the Olympic Council of Asia that would be used to purchase the vaccines.  

POC first vice president Al Panlilio, who was tasked to purchase the vaccines, assured Team Philippines that the entire delegation would be inoculated as soon as the vaccines are available.  

Only boxer Eumir Felix Marcial and weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz have been vaccinated among the Tokyo-bound athletes. –