MANILA, Philippines -- The Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) is proposing for the country to host the Asia-Oceania qualifiers for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics given the threat posed by the deadly coronavirus.
The Asia-Oceania boxing qualifiers was originally set for February 3 in Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the coronavirus which has infected at least 200 Chinese who traveled in the area.
Organizers said they had decided to move the event from Wuhan in order to protect the health of those attending.
Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Abraham "Bambol’’ Tolentino immediately supported the suggestion of the ABAP and has brought it up with the International Olympic Committee.
"We support ABAP’s suggestion to transfer the tournament to the Philippines. The POC will endeavor to assist in whatever way it can,’’ said Tolentino, a Cavite congressman who heads PhilCycling, the country’s governing body in the sport.
ABAP said it is worried about the virus' threat to Filipino boxers.
"The outbreak of a mysterious coronavirus strain is alarming and we appeal to the IOC to seriously consider transferring the venue city and the dates of the tournament,’’ said Tolentino.
"The danger posed by possible contamination is highly risky and we cannot afford to expose not only our delegation, but others as well,’’ he added.
The virus has also reached Japan, Thailand and South Korea with four people hospitalized after visiting Wuhan.
As the number of cases soar, the WHO said it would consider declaring an international public health emergency over the outbreak.
Eight boxers are scheduled to compete in the Asia-Oceania qualifiers to book a ticket to the Tokyo Olympics, according to ABAP secretary general Ed Picson.
Picson explained that six Olympic spots are up for grabs in the men’s 52kg, 57kg, 63kg and women’s 51kg divisions with a semifinal appearance assured of a ticket to Tokyo.
The fifth and sixth Olympic slots will go to the boxers who lost in the quarterfinals to the eventual gold and silver medalists.
It will be a tight bout between Rio de Janeiro Olympian Rogen Ladon and Carlo Paalam who will represent the country in 52kg during the Asia-Oceania qualifying meet, while the 63kg division will be a tossup between James Palicte and newcomer Samuel Jeri Dela Cruz.
Clark Bautista (57kg), Marjon Pianar (69kg) and Eumir Marcial (75kg) will carry the national colors in their respective weight classes, while Irish Magno (51kg), world champion Nesthy Petecio (57kg) and former wushu fighter Hergie Bacyadan (69kg) will be the country’s bets in the women’s side.
(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.)