Three LGUs offer to host training of SEA Games-bound athletes

Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Bambol Tolentino revealed on Tuesday that three local government units (LGUs) offered to host bubbles for some teams preparing for the 31st Southeast Asian Games.

Speaking on the weekly Philippine Sportswriters Association Forum webcast, Tolentino said that he decided to make some calls to several sports-minded local chief executives after the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) asked for help from LGUs.

PSC Commissioner Ramon Fernandez said in the April 13 episode that national sporting associations (NSAs) should look for towns or cities that are willing to host them from July until November.

Offering to host some of the country's SEA Games hopefuls are Mayor Arlene Arcillas of Sta. Rosa in Laguna, Mayor Lino Cayetano of Taguig City, and Mayor Agnes Tolentino of Tagaytay City.

"For now, those three LGUs accepted the hosting of the bubble training for SEA Games-bound athletes. Our focus is not to solely rely on PSC venues. Let's give it to them for COVID isolation areas or vaccination sites," expounded Tolentino.

Based on the initial handshake deal, Sta. Rosa will host around 50 athletes from different combat sports like wrestling, karate, judo, and kurash. Taguig, on the other hand, will be home to the volleyball and table tennis bubbles, while Tagaytay will have cycling and kickboxing training on their turf.

Tolentino added that he will also ask for a special permit from the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) to allow said athletes to continue training, in spite of any quarantine restrictions.

Declaration of enhanced community quarantine over the NCR+ bubble last March 29 caused training inside the INSPIRE Sports Academy in Calamba to temporarily halt. Among those affected were taekwondo, boxing, and basketball.

"Definitely we will apply, since all of them are inside. Even if it's still in July because we will be the ones that will be late [for training]. It will be a collective effort from many sectors," said the Cavite congressman.

Vaccination is also a top priority for the POC, especially for Olympic-bound athletes. Tolentino is looking to follow up an earlier request made by Deputy Speaker Mikee Romero to the IATF last January 26 to reclassify elite athletes as frontliners.

If the current vaccination priority lists are to be followed, athletes will be at the tail end of the order since they are young and healthier compared to the rest of the populace. Also hoping to be in the priority list are other Tokyo-bound Filipinos like sports officials and journalists.

"We're just waiting for [the IATF's] response, I called some officers of the IATF and remind Sec. [Carlito] Galvez about that for the prioritization of the national athletes bound for Tokyo. Maybe if it will be approved, they may be inoculated wherever hospital they go to," mentioned Tolentino.

If the government fails to approve this soon, the course of action is to wait for the Moderna vaccines donated by magnate Enrique Razon, and the shots set to be procured by POC first vice president Al S. Panlilio, courtesy of a $40,000 stipend by the Olympic Council of Asia.

Tolentino also called on athletes to continue following minimum health standards after members of the canoe kayak delegation saw their Olympic chances sink when a member of the team tested positive for COVID-19.

"Aside from training, please stay at home and keep safe. If they could double mask and use alcohol, they need to keep safe. Imagine after a year, when the canoe kayak team started to train to get exposed, it's a frustrating thing," Tolentino lamented in Filipino.