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COVID-19 INSURANCE FOR SEA GAMES ATHLETES PUSHED

The Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta (PBA) Party-list is urging the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) to include comprehensive insurance coverage for COVID-19 for members of the Philippine delegation to the 31st Southeast Asian (SEA) Games.

PBA Party-list spokesperson Atty. Migs Nograles issued the call after it was revealed that host country Vietnam will not be requiring proof of vaccination against COVID-19 for participants in the biennial multi-sport event.

The Philippines will be sending a delegation of 584 athletes to the 2021 Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi in May, along with 161 officials who will accompany the athletes to the regional meet.

“While most, if not all, of our athletes, have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, giving our athletes insurance coverage should they contract the disease would be prudent since we have no way of knowing if the participants from the other countries they will be interacting with have been vaccinated given that proof of vaccination would not be required at the Games,” Nograles said.

“Giving our athletes insurance coverage would allow them to get the greatest standard of care without giving them any additional financial burden should the unthinkable happen that they get sick,” she added.

The Davaoeña lawyer said the insurance coverage should also include disability riders for those who may get long COVID.

According to the United States Centers for Disease Control, long COVID conditions “are a wide range of new, returning, or ongoing health problems people can experience four or more weeks after first being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.”

“COVID affects our respiratory tract and athletes need strong lungs to be able to be in peak condition. Should their respiratory system become compromised, they may be forced to end their careers much earlier than expected, and we have to be prepared for this eventuality,” Nograles stressed.

In the US, “long COVID,” also known as post-COVID conditions, can be considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as of July 2021.

The Philippines will be sending a delegation of 584 athletes to the 2021 Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi in May, along with 161 officials who will accompany the athletes to the regional meet.

The POC initially submitted 656 athletes and 162 officials in 39 sports for the approval of the PSC while including 82 more athletes whose participation in the SEA Games will be paid by their respective national sports associations.

The Davaoeña lawyer said the insurance coverage should also include disability riders for those who may get long COVID.

The much-delayed biennial meet will be held from May 12 to 23. More than 8,000 athletes are expected to compete in the Games.

Hanoi will host 22 sports in its main cluster and 11 sports in its secondary cluster where venues are located within a 100-kilometer radius.

An additional two clusters situated more than 100kms away from Hanoi will host a combined 17 sports.

As part of health and safety protocols, organizers would only allow delegation officials to go from one distance to another during the Games, while athletes and coaches will be confined to their respective areas and hotels for the duration of their stay.

Athletes and coaches, however, will be allowed to visit restaurants, bars, shopping centers and tourist spots within their areas.

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