DEPUTY Speaker Mikee Romero is filing a resolution in the House that will pave the way for the inclusion of national athletes in the priority list for COVID-19 vaccines to enable them to concentrate on their preparations for international events, including the Tokyo Olympics and the 31st Vietnam Southeast Asian Games.
“We should consider our athletes as frontliners because of the sacrifices they have made and the pride they have given our country,” Romero said yesterday during the Philippine Sportswriters Association online forum.
“Hopefully, our national athletes, especially those qualifying for the Olympics, can avail of these vaccines by March,” added the sportsman-businessman in the public sports program backed by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., San Miguel, Go for Gold, Amelie Hotel, Brasca Restaurant, Milo, and Smart.
“The vaccines can truly be a game changer,” said Romero, who expressed concern about the mental well-being of the national athletes, majority of them still to resume actual training due to the pandemic.
“I am still an athlete and know how mentally tough it is in having no competition in quite a while,” stressed Romero, who saw action with the national polo team that won a bronze medal in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.
He said he and fellow Deputy Speaker and Philippine Olympic Committee President Bambol Tolentino would work together so the national government would give priority to national athletes once the vaccines become available.
“Right now, it is our frontliners and senior citizens who are being prioritized for the COVID-19 vaccines but with this resolution we hope we can put our national athletes in line with them,” Romero said.
Romero added that those who should be given vaccines right away are the country’s Olympics hopefuls, followed by the national athletes gearing up for the SEA scheduled in Hanoi, Vietnam in November.
Among those who should be given jabs early, he added, are the Olympic aspirants in taekwondo and weightlifter and Rio Olympic silver medalist Hidylin Diaz, whose qualifying competitions are set in April.
“We look forward to all our Olympic qualifiers being vaccinated by the time they see action in Tokyo,” he said.
Romero said his main focus is for the rest of the national athletes to resume actual workouts considering that majority of them have been inactive for over 10 months since the country was locked down in mid-March last year due to the pandemic.
He cited as an example the PBA ballclub he owns, NorthPort, whose players took time to get back into competitive shape in last year’s Philippine Cup in a bubble in Angeles, Pampanga.
“Parang wala sila sa huwisyo sa umpisa, parang nag-sisimula silang matutong mag-basketball muli,” Romero noted.
He was also concerned how national campaigners would fare in the Vietnam SEA Games, considering the country is the overall champion after regaining top spot in the 11-nation games two years ago with a bumper crop harvest of 149 gold, 117 silver and 121 bronze medals.
“I am optimistic the SEA Games will push through so we need our national athletes to resume training so that we won’t fall too far behind in Hanoi,” Romero said.