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MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) clings on to the hope that Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao gets the green light to compete in the Paris Olympics.
POC president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino said on Sunday, October 8, that the organization sent an appeal to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for Pacquiao to earn a Paris berth through the universality principle.
Universality places are generally given to athletes from countries which have trouble reaching the Olympics through the normal qualification avenues.
But the POC and the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) hope that Pacquiao – who last fought in the welterweight division – gets an exception.
“Who doesn’t want Manny Pacquiao in their Olympic lineup? Obviously, he’s an absolute legend, but there are rules in place that we have to consider also,” said ABAP secretary-general Marcus Manalo.
Already 44 years old, Pacquiao can no longer compete in Olympic qualifying tournaments since he is well past the age limit of 40.
Pacquiao missed his chance to qualify for Paris through the recently concluded Asian Games, which imposed the same age limit as well.
“We can probably challenge that age limit since we can assume that its purpose is to protect the [older] boxers because you’re unsure about their conditioning, their level of training,” said Manalo in a mix of Filipino and English.
“A possible workaround is we can argue that this 44-year-old is much more conditioned than the other 30-year-olds who are competing.”
“But I don’t know, because if you’re the IOC, if you’re going to make changes, you implement those changes in the next Olympic cycle.”
One thing, though, is certain: having Pacquiao on board gives Team Philippines a major morale boost in Paris.
“Obviously, that would be extremely beneficial for us. The presence alone of Manny Pacquiao would be a big boost already for the team,” said Manalo.
“It will be good for the sport. I hope IOC considers that you have here an eight-division world champion who still wants to compete in the Olympics.”
Still, Manalo wants to temper expectations.
“We’re hopeful, but we have to manage expectations as well,” said Manalo. “We hope the IOC considers. But the question is are they going to make exceptions for the policies in place?” – Rappler.com