SENATE Committees on Health and Sports chairman Senator Bong Go on Tuesday urged health authorities and experts to regularly assess the pandemic situation amid the possible cancellation of the 2021 Summer Olympics set next month in Tokyo, Japan.
This comes after increasing anxiety is felt around the globe towards the COVID-19 Delta variant which has been reported to be more contagious.
In an interview during the launching of the Malasakit Center in Masbate Provincial Hospital in Masbate City, Go said that the government will continue to assess the situation with utmost priority for protecting the health of Filipinos.
“Habang papalapit na po ang Tokyo Olympics sa July 23, timbangin po natin ang kapakanan, buhay, at kalusugan ng bawat Filipino. Isaalang-alang po natin parati na delikado po itong COVID-19, especially with the Delta variant,” said Go.
Last Saturday, June 26, protests took place in Tokyo, calling for the 2021 Olympic Games to be cancelled due to the possible COVID-19 outbreak in Japan. Another major issue expressed by several of the protesters was the vaccination situation in Japan as reports claim low immunization rates.
Meanwhile, Go emphasized, however, that the health and well-being of the athletes and all Filipinos will always be the government’s top priority.
“A lost life is a lost life forever. Importante sa akin ang buhay. Pwede naman nating ipagpaliban ‘yan kung kakailanganin,” he added.
So far, 17 Filipino athletes were already qualified in Tokyo Games with the latest additions of US Women’s Open champion Yuka Saso and Bianca Pagdanganan as well as Japan Tour campaigner Juvic Pagunsan.
Earlier, Go successfully appealed to the government to include in the priority list for COVID-19 vaccination the Filipino athletes and other delegates who will be competing or participating in the upcoming Olympics and the Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, both this year.
Meanwhile, Go assured that the Senate Committee on Health, in coordination with health authorities and experts, continue to monitor developments and measures against COVID-19 especially amid emerging variants.
“We will continue to monitor the situation especially the Delta variant na sinasabing four times more contagious. Dapat po maagapan na hindi po kumalat dahil talaga pong delikado itong Delta variant na ito,” said Go.
“We cannot afford to risk the lives and health ng ating mga atleta, ng ating mga kapwa Pilipino,” he added.
But while nothing is official yet regarding the cancellation of the Games, Go said that the athletes must continue to prepare and train in a safe manner in accordance with health standards.
“Sa ngayon po, ituloy lang po ang preparasyon. Isa po ako sa nagsulong na mabakunahan ang ating mga atleta na sasali na makikipag-compete doon sa Tokyo Olympics,” he noted, while expressing that there is still that possibility of the Games getting cancelled as lives are more important.
“Puwede naman ang Olympics sa ibang panahon. Pero ‘yung buhay po hindi naibabalik… Kaya importante po sa akin ang buhay ng bawat Pilipino. Unahin natin ang buhay at kapakanan ng ating kababayan,” he ended.
An advocate for sports development, Go has been pushing for measures to protect the welfare and promote the betterment of athletes towards the country’s sports renaissance. Previously, he assured his support for the planned construction of the Philippine Sports Training Center in Bataan.
Signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in February 2019, Republic Act No. 11214 provides for the creation of the PSTC which seeks “to promote and develop sports in the country, to achieve excellence in international sports competitions, to ensure success in the country’s quest to achieve competitiveness in the Olympic Games and to promote international amity among nations.”
Not to be confused with the National Academy of Sports (NAS), Go said that both facilities are the government’s gifts to national athletes. President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law RA No. 11470 which establishes the National Academy of Sports in June last year. Go was one of the authors of the measure.
He also praised Duterte for his approval of the timely release of the budget for the construction of the facilities and amenities of the NAS. The government released a total of P729 million to cover the construction costs, including civil works requirements; fixtures, furniture, and equipment; and consultancy services.