By ADRIAN STEWART CO
Filipino ring icon Manny Pacquiao is hoping to represent the country in the 2024 Paris Olympics, Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Abraham Tolentino said.
The camp of the eight-division world boxing champion has reached out to Tolentino’s office on Wednesday, August 30, to find out how Pacquiao can earn qualification to the Summer Games.
Tolentino said he is conferring with the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to know how Pacquiao can join.
“Senator Pacquiao’s camp reached out saying our Filipino ring idol wants to fight in Paris,” Tolentino said.
“The ABAP, through its chairman Ricky Vargas, will welcome him to the national team and will assist in his qualification,” he added.
The 44-year-old Pacquiao is looking for other Olympic qualifying tournaments as he is ineligible for the upcoming Asian Games, which has an age limit for athletes at 40 years old in all sports.
“[Pacquiao] can no longer vie for qualification in the Asian Games in Hangzhou next month. He can qualify for Paris through two Olympic Qualifying Tournaments set in the first and second quarters of 2024,” Tolentino said.
Another way for Pacquiao to secure a berth, according to Tolentino, is via the Universality rule, which the IOC would grant but only in nine places under Universality at the Paris Games.
He said Pacquiao currently weighs 66 kilograms and has to choose between the 63.50 and 71 kg that are on the Paris boxing program.
Professional boxers have been allowed to compete at the Olympics.
In the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, 43 of the 186 competitors were professionals, including middleweight bronze medalist Eumir Felix Marcial.
Marcial opted to delay his fifth professional fight in September and will focus on his return to the Olympics through Hangzhou, where he’ll be fighting as a light heavyweight./ASC, WDJ