In case a reminder is needed, this year is Summer Olympics year, and the Games of the XXXII Olympiad are happening in Tokyo starting this July. To that end, international qualifying competitions for aspiring Olympic competitors have been going on around the world since last year and earlier still. In fact, a qualifying event for Olympic boxing covering Asia and Oceania was supposed to be held this month. The problem is, the venue is in Wuhan, China, ground zero of the pneumonia and novel coronavirus outbreak. It was understandable that the boxing qualifiers were cancelled, but it is rather necessary to get boxers for Tokyo 2020, so what is next?
Leave it to the Filipinos to step in with an offer of hospitality. The Philippine Star reports that the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) has contacted the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to have the cancelled Asia-Oceania Olympic Boxing Qualifiers in Wuhan relocated to the Philippines. The pitch was given this Thursday, January 23, by secretary-general Ed Picson of the ABAP, with the intent of having the offer passed on to world gymnastics president Morinori Watanabe for consideration.
Even before the actual Qualifiers in Wuhan were eventually cancelled because of health concerns for the novel coronavirus, Picson has already reached out to Watanabe about having the boxing meet be held in the country, with the blessing of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC). In addition, the Philippine’s IOC delegate Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski announced that she would voice her own assent in the relocation of the qualifiers to Watanabe. The fact that the IOC’s boxing task force did not give any official world as to when and where they might move the competition from Wuhan, gives Picson hope that the Philippine offer might be fully considered.
There is also a level of pragmatism in the ABAP wanting the boxing qualifiers to be held in the country, beyond the Philippines’ proven capacity as a competition host especially after last year’s Southeast Asian Games. Secretary-General Picson hopes that the nation’s own Olympic hopeful boxers, when fighting in the Philippines itself, might gain some home court advantage to boost their performance and morale, and therefore their chances to qualify for the Tokyo Summer Olympics. Said Tokyo 2020 aspirants include World Championship silver medalist Eumir Felix Marcial, and the reigning world women’s champion Nesthy Petecio.
Image courtesy of Inquirer.net