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Malaysia’s health minister is seriously claiming credit for Philippine’s maiden Olympic victory. 

Adham Baba’s office said today that weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz would not have been able to travel to Tokyo for the sporting competition if it had not been for the health minister approving her AstraZeneca vaccination so that she could travel. The 30-year-old picked up gold in the 55kg category for women’s weightlifting on Monday after spending more than a year training with makeshift equipment in Malaysia, where she was stranded due to COVID-19. 

“Perhaps no one knows that despite the success of The Philippine’s weightlifting champion, Hidilyn Diaz, who won the first gold for her country at the 2020 Olympic Games, Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba, the Malaysian minister of health is one of the people who contributed to Hidi’s success,” Adham’s office said in a statement.

“Dr Adham is the person responsible for helping Hidi receive the AstraZeneca vaccine injection needed to qualify Hidi and her team to leave for Tokyo, Japan,” it added. 

Upon request by the Philippines’ ambassador to Malaysia Charles C Jose, the health minister said that he gave approvals for Diaz and her coaches to complete vaccination in time for the Olympic games, according to the Health Ministry. 

The athlete had been stranded in Malaysia from February 2020 because she was unable to return home to the Philippines due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. Since Malaysia’s lockdown forced gyms to close, affecting her access to proper equipment, Diaz had to train in Melaka carrying water bottles tied to a stick. 

 

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A post shared by Hidilyn Diaz OLY (@hidilyndiaz)

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This article, Health Minister Adham Baba says he contributed to Philippine’s maiden gold, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia’s leading alternative media company.

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