MANILA, Philippines - "I need to ask if the Filipino people will allow me to participate in the Olympics."
This is what Senator-elect Manny Pacquiao said at the Senate proclamation last week. The 37-year-old boxing legend had announced that he would end his 21-year pro career after defeating Timothy Bradley Jr in their third fight this past April, and that he would focus on his political career.
If Rappler's polls are any indication, Filipinos want him to stay retired and focus on his senatorial duties. A Facebook poll found that 53% of 2,427 respondents voted "No" to Pacquiao's Olympic aspirations, compared to 47% of people who voted yes. The tally on Twitter was more one-sided, with 64% of 1,524 respondents voting no.
"You're a senator now, just try to create laws that would give Philippine sports a chance to compete at a higher level," writes Michael Z. Evangelista.
Not all were oppossed. Maynard Laspuña Saga commented: "If this is the only chance we have to finally get an Olympic gold medal then go for it Manny! This is what you do best. Bring home the gold before finally hanging up the gloves and then get serious about the senate."
Pacquiao, who had served two terms as congressman before, had left the door open to competing in the 2016 Olympics, which would be allowing pro fighters to compete for the first time. Pacquiao had been offered a wild card berth by AIBA president Dr Ching Kuo Wu but expressed concern that his constituents would accuse him of going back on his word and taking his senatorial duties lightly.
"People will say that this person was just elected and in August, he wants to compete in the Olympics," said Pacquiao.
The Philippines has never won an Olympic gold medal, though 5 of the country's 9 medals have been in the boxing event. The last time the Philippines medaled at the Olympics was in 1996, when Mansueto "Onyok" Velasco took silver.
ABAP Executive Director Ed Picson had asked Pacquiao to state his intentions by Friday, May 27 - the submission deadline for the Final Olympic Qualifier in Baku, Azerbaijan, which takes place June 11. If Pacquiao's window for a wild card entry passes, he'd have to compete in the qualifier to earn a spot in Rio De Janeiro.
As of 8 pm, Thursday, May 26, Pacquiao had yet to inform ABAP of his decision. – Rappler.com