An athlete taking part in the upcoming Tokyo Paralympics was vaccinated against COVID-19 at the Hospital 199 in Đà Nẵng on Monday. — Photo dangcongsan.vn
HÀ NỘI — For weeks, track and field athlete Khuất Phương Anh has been training in the Hà Nội-based National Sports Training Centre, without being allowed out.
“Due to the fear of the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic across the country, the centre's leadership has banned all athletes and coaches at the centre from going out for more than a month,” Anh told Việt Nam News.
“That's why we are less worried about the pandemic so we can train safely for important upcoming tournaments.
“However, I have not been vaccinated, so I am a bit worried and want to get vaccinated soon to train and compete wholeheartedly,” Anh added.
“In the centre, we only eat and practice, so the days run quickly. Sometimes, I play games in my free time, sometimes I ask my mother to buy food and cook it for myself. We have to wait until the pandemic is controlled, then we will be allowed to go out,” said Anh.
Born in 1997 in Phúc Thọ Town, Hà Nội, Anh is aiming for gold in the Southeast Asian (SEA Games) in the women’s 800m category in Việt Nam later this year.
She won silver medals in the Games held in the Philippines in 2019 and Malaysia in 2017 in the event.
Track and field athlete Khuất Phương Anh competes in a recent event. — Photo courtesy of Khuất Phương Anh
Pushing the vaccine drive is an urgent task for the Government at present, and the State has mobilised many resources to secure enough vaccines for the people.
“The National Sports Administration has reported to the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control the list of national teams and national youth teams in HCM City and Hà Nội to vaccinate. When vaccines are available, athletes will be injected,” Trần Đức Phấn, deputy director of the National Sports Administration told Việt Nam News.
“Currently, vaccinating against COVID is a priority for athletes competing abroad first. The first priority was for athletes participating in Tokyo Olympics qualifying. But most of them have only had one injection,” said Phấn.
“And the Vietnamese delegation taking part in the upcoming Olympics has basically finished the injections. As for athletes who have just won Olympic tickets recently such as shooting and weightlifting, those coaches and athletes in these sports will also soon be vaccinated.
“We will try to ensure every Olympian gets at least one injection. The Vietnamese team will leave for Tokyo on July 9,’ said Phấn.
Phấn said so far there have been nearly 300 athletes vaccinated including national team footballers who played in the World Cup qualifiers in the UAE.
Medical staff prepare to vaccinate for athletes taking part in the Olympics qualifying round. — Photo nld.com.vn
According to Nguyễn Đức Thủy, head of the athletics section of the National Sports Administration, if athletes are vaccinated, they must be vaccinated together.
“In the relay teams, they often contact with each other when training and competing, so in my opinion, if athletes are vaccinated, they must be vaccinated at the same time in the four national sports centres across the country so there is no gap in COVID-19 infection among athletes,” said Thủy.
“I'll make an example. In a family, if only one person is vaccinated, the whole family is not safe during the pandemic and the same goes for athletes,” Thủy added.
Thủy emphasised that through this pandemic, the sports industry will change its thinking and management.
Fencer Nguyễn Tiến Nhật tested positive for the coronavirus after he participated in the Tokyo Olympics qualifiers in Uzbekistan and returned home last month, the first COVID-19 case concerning a Vietnamese athlete.
Nhật was the only member of the six-athlete fencing team who hadn't been vaccinated.
The national fencing team had to leave for Uzbekistan in late April. Other fencers received vaccine shots during the first phase in April in Hà Nội. But Nhật was based in HCM City where athletes were inoculated in early May, so he missed out.
Organising an event for athletes vaccinated?
Việt Nam is calling for contributions to the COVID-19 prevention fund and the government is also advocating to cut the budget to focus on COVID-19 prevention.
Phấn, deputy director of the National Sports Administration, said that while the whole country is struggling to fight the pandemic, the sports industry shouldn’t talk about organising the SEA Games.
“Holding a Games without fans is not sport. In addition, Việt Nam won't be able to promote the country much, so we shouldn’t hold the Games. In the context of the difficulties in the country and COVID-19 pandemic, we have to advise the leaders to have a reasonable solution,” said Phấn.
The SEA Games 31 scheduled to be held in Việt Nam later this year is likely to be postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. — Photo vtv.vn
Because of the pandemic, many tournaments at home and abroad have been postponed or cancelled. The upcoming SEA Games in Việt Nam may also be postponed, so can the National Sports Administration organise events for athletes who have been vaccinated against COVID-19?
Responding to this issue, Phấn said: “All sports now have national championships. If all athletes have vaccinated, we haven’t thought of organising any events. If an athlete is fully vaccinated with two injections, they can still positive for COVID."
“As you know, a member of the Ugandan Olympic team has tested positive for coronavirus on arrival in Japan although he was fully vaccinated and tested negative for SARS-CoV-2 72 hours before departure.
“So the national tournaments will still run according to the annual plan. At the beginning of the year, a number of national tournaments were held, while other tournaments are still frozen. When the pandemic is completely controlled, a series of national tournaments will be organised,” said Phấn. — VNS