MANILA, Philippines – The national boxing team continued to ramp up its Tokyo 2020 Olympics bid as a new virus is said to be spreading in Wuhan, China, where the 2020 Asia & Oceania Boxing Olympic qualifiers will be staged from February 3 to 14.
On Tuesday, January 14, in the weekly Philippine Sportswriters Association forum at Amelie Hotel, Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) secretary-general Ed Picson said that men's boxing team is currently in a training camp in Thailand while the women's team continued its preparations in Baguio City.
Picson also relayed to reporters that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Boxing Task Force (BTF) advised that no specific health measures are needed to be taken at the moment, which gave a go signal for the event to push through.
However, the organization is closely monitoring the situation in Wuhan together with the World Health Organization and the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (READ: China reports first death from mystery pneumonia outbreak)
"Chinese authorities have made a preliminary determination of a novel (or new) coronavirus that can cause severe illness in some patients but does not transmit readily between people. They have also confirmed that SARS and MERS Coronaviruses have been ruled out," said IOC BTF in a statement.
"Therefore, no specific actions or changes to standard travel health advice have been decided by the IOC Boxing Task Force, at this stage. We will continue to monitor the situation closely through the WHO, CDC and Chinese authorities, with the support of the IOC medical experts, and we will readily inform NOCs, NFs and their athletes should the situation change."
Picson said a couple of countries have expressed willingness to take over the hosting of the Olympic qualifier, including Thailand and even the Philippines, which recently hosted the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
"With our recent hosting of the SEA Games, we have the mechanics in place," said Picson. However, he doubted if China would give up the hosting since it has other venues nationwide that can stage the multi-nation event.
Fresh off a seven-gold medal haul from the regional biennial meet, the Filipino pugs are hoping to gain an Olympic berth right in the Asia & Oceania qualifiers.
Each weight class will have a different Olympic qualifying standard in both the men's and women's divisions.
World women's boxing champion and SEA Games gold medalist Nesthy Petecio has best chance of making the cut with the inclusion of the featherweight divison (57kg) as she needs to win at least a bronze.
SEA Games silver medalist Irish Magno needs to place in the top 6 of the flyweight (51kg) event, while newcomer Hergie Bacyadan looks to surprise with a medal in the welterweight category (69kg).
In the men's side, Philippine bets in the flyweight (52kg), featherweight (57kg) and lightweight (63kg) events will need at least a top 6 finish in order to qualify for the quadrennial meet.
2016 Rio Olympian Rogen Ladon and Carlo Paalam are set to compete for a slot in the flyweight division while SEA Games bronze medalist Ian Clark Bautista will represent the country in the featherweight division.
After securing the gold in the SEA Games, James Palicte will be competing against compatriot Samuel Jerie dela Cruz in the lightweight category.
In the welterweight (69kg), middleweight (75kg) and light heavyweight (81kg) events, only the top 5 boxers will be able to advance to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
SEA Games silver medalist Marjon Pianar will continue to participate in the welterweight category, while world chamipionships silver medalist Eumir Felix Marcial looks to finally nail an Olympics berth in the middleweight category.
John Marvin, who failed to defend his SEA Games gold in a shock quarterfinals exit, will be sitting out of the continental qualifiers' light heavyweight event due to a fractured hand, but Picson hopes that he can still vie for the Olympics in the World Olympic qualifiers in Paris, France in May.
"Hopefully he’ll make it to the worlds, but only those who lost in the Asia qualifiers can join. I still have to clarify that," said Picson.
A box-off scenario will not be conducted in the Asia and Oceania qualifiers. Instead, the 5th place will be awarded to the opponent of the eventual gold medalist in the quarterfinals of the event and the top 6 player is the quarterfinals opponent of the eventual silver medalist. – Rappler.com
More commonly known as “Bee”, Beatrice is a multimedia sports reporter for Rappler, who covers Phillippine sports governance, national teams, football and the UAAP. Stay tuned for her news and features on Philippine sports and videos like the Rappler Athlete’s Corner and Rappler Sports Timeout.