MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines offered to host an Olympic boxing qualifying tournament as China cancelled events in a city that’s at the center of a virus outbreak.
The Association of Boxing Alliances of the Philippines (ABAP) has written a letter to the IOC-BTF requesting that the Olympic qualifier be transferred to the Philippines, noting that the country just hosted the 2019 Southeast Asian Games. (READ: Amid China pneumonia outbreak, PH boxers prepare for Olympic qualifiers)
The International Olympic Committee-Boxing Task Force (IOC-BTF) said on Wednesday, January 22 that the local organizing committee in China had cancelled the 2020 Asia and Oceania Boxing Olympic qualifying tournament in Wuhan “amid growing concerns in relation to the coronavirus outbreak reported in the city.”
The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) supports the country’s boxing federation hosting bid in its statement to the IOC.
“The outbreak of the mysterious coronavirus strain is alarming and we appeal to the International Olympic Committee to seriously consider transferring the venue city and dates of the tournament,” wrote POC president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino.
“The danger posed by the possible contamination is highly risky and we cannot afford to expose not only our delegation, but others as well.”
Boxing was almost excluded from the 2020 Olympic program after a series of scandals. The amateur boxing body AIBA was stripped of the right to organize the Olympic competition and replaced with the special task force.
Seventeen people have died and at least 500 have been infected with the SARS-like coronavirus that has spread around China, with the vast majority of cases reported in Wuhan.
A seafood market that sold wild animals is the suspected source of the outbreak.
The coronavirus has caused alarm for its similarity to SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), which killed nearly 650 people across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002 to 2003.
Cases have also been reported outside China, in countries including the United States, South Korea, Japan and Thailand.
Wuhan was also supposed to host China, Taiwan, Thailand and Australia for the Group B Asian women’s football qualifiers from February 3 to 9.
The Asian Football Confederation said in a statement its tournament will be held on the same dates in the eastern city of Nanjing.
It said the change was proposed by the Chinese Football Association.
Even before the announcement about the postponement of the football qualifiers, Taiwan’s football association had warned it would withdraw from the matches if they were held in Wuhan, saying that “the safety of players is our top priority”. – with reports from Agence-France Presse/Rappler.com