Obiena likely to decline COVID-19 vaccine

Top Filipino pole vaulter Ernest John “EJ” Obiena is more likely to pass up on his COVID-19 vaccination with only a little more than a month left before the Tokyo Olympics.

Emerson Obiena
His father-coach Emerson revealed that younger Obiena, who has been training in Italy and competing mostly in Europe, cannot afford to take the risks of possible adverse effects of the vaccine that may hamper his son’s strict training program.

“Sa ngayon, deferred muna ‘yung vaccine. Pinag-aaralan kung mayroon pang time na maisingit ang vaccination. Kung hindi, dadagdagan na lang ‘yung ingat, para ‘yung preparation hindi maapektuhan,” said Emerson during an online session of the Philippine Sportswriters Association.

The elder Obiena, pole vault coach of the national team under the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association, said that based on their inquiries with other athletes, who already had undergone COVID-19 vaccination, some of them experienced side effects that sometimes took about 10 days to subside.

“Kasi po ‘yung training program naka in-place na. As much as possible, they want to follow ‘yung progression nila going to the Olympics. Kasi ‘yung 10 days na hindi ka makapag-training, malaki ang effect nu’n, sayang naman kung mahihinto dahil doon,” Obiena added.

The short period remaining before action gets going in Tokyo makes it seemingly impossible for an athlete to get two doses of a vaccine, which takes from 30 to 60 days to complete.

In the same forum sponsored by San Miguel Corporation, MILO® Philippines, Amelie Hotel Manila, Braska Restaurant and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, an official from the National Golf Association of the Philippines also said that the three Tokyo-bound Filipino golfers—Yuka Saso, Bianca Pagdanganan and Juvic Pagunsan—have yet to confirm their vaccination.

“That’s something we have to ask from them and make arrangements if needed. But if they are not going to get vaccinated, they will just have to be extra cautious,” side NGAP secretary-general Bones Floro.

The International Olympic Committee, though, does not make COVID-19 vaccination a compulsory requirement to compete in the Tokyo Olympics set July 23 to August 2.

As for other Filipino athletes, who have qualified for the Summer Games, most of them have been vaccinated by the host countries where they are training.

Philippine Olympic Committee president Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino said Malaysia has assured a second dose of the vaccine for Hidilyn Diaz and her team, while Japanese sports officials guaranteed the inoculation of gymnast Carlos Yulo and his Japanese coach Munehiro Kugimiya.

Boxers Irish Magno, Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam should have gotten their first dose in Thailand at this time, while Eumir Felix Marcial completed his vaccines in Las Vegas earlier this year.

Rower Cris Nievarez already got his first dose of the vaccine, along with 729 Southeast Asian Games-bound athletes and coaches last May 28 in Manila. Taekwondo’s Kurt Bryan Barbosa and newly-qualified skateboarder Tokyo Olympian Margielyn Didal will get their first dose in the second batch of the mass vaccination of athletes and coaches this June.

Topics: Ernest John “EJ” Obiena , COVID-19 , Emerson Obiena , Philippine Sportswriters Association , Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association
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