The rise of the 2019 novel coronavirus has put a damper on this year where amateur and professional sports are concerned. Seasons of sports that should have started have either been delayed several months or, if they managed to start earlier this year, have been put on hiatus instead. All these were deemed necessary to avoid the generation of crowds that would be a ripe target for COVID-19 to spread. Even the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics hangs in the balance on whether it will happen this July. But until a final decision is made, the organizers are encouraging athletes to train and win qualifiers, to prepare for traveling to Japan.
In accordance with the directives laid out by the International Olympic Committee, while they wait for a definitive decision on whether to continue or cancel plans for the Tokyo Olympic Games, several sports qualifying events have been held to determine the competitors headed for Japan. And as CNN Philippines would have it, two boxers have managed to weather the storm of qualifier competition and concern for the coronavirus pandemic, in order to secure their berths in the Philippine delegation to the Summer Olympics this year.
First to qualify as a boxer for Team Philippines in Tokyo 2020 is Eumir Marcial, at the Asia and Oceania Olympic Boxing Qualifiers held in Amma, Jordan this month. While his Tokyo spot was secured this past Sunday, March 8, the slugger from Zamboanga City was not content with mere qualification; this competition was still a tournament, and Marcial was still on the way to the championships. This played out this Thursday, March 12, where Eumir beat Kazakhstan’s Abilkhan Amankul by split decision, winning gold in the qualifiers. His Tokyo-qualifying victory days earlier had been against Mongolia’s Byamba Erdene Otgonbaatar.
The other Filipino boxer to punch a ticket to the Olympics is Irish Magno for women’s boxing. She too was at the Amman qualifiers and secured her Tokyo 2020 dream by beating Sumaiya Qosimova of Tajikistan via unanimous decision. Becoming a confirmed Olympian seems like a natural step in Magno’s boxing journey after winning silver at the 2019 Southeast Asian Games held in the Philippines. Her triumph and Marcial’s served to offset the elimination of their fellow pugilist Carlo Paalam, who was defeated via split decision against his own Kazakh opponent. He will have to try again to shoot for Tokyo at the World Olympic Qualifying Tournament at Paris, France this May 13-20, barring COVID-19.
With Irish Magno and Eumir Marcial joining gymnast wonder boy Carlos Yulo and pole vaulter EJ Obiena, Team Philippines has four Olympians headed for Tokyo to win glory in the Summer Olympics. That is of course if the Games are given the go-ahead, with the IOC waiting until around May to make a final decision taking the pandemic into consideration.
Image courtesy of ABS-CBN News