Can our boxers qualify and win Olympic gold?
Aiba, amateur boxing’s governing body, was stripped of its Olympic status and its right to manage the Tokyo 2020 Olympic boxing tournament fairly recently.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) made the drastic move after an extensive probe found that Aiba’s leadership was sleeping with organized crime, its finances were in shambles and its bouts in previous Summer Games were deemed questionable.
IOC president Thomas Bach said Aiba would be deprived of revenues from the Tokyo Olympics and confirmed that the organization would not be able to return to the Olympic movement “without fundamental change.”
Boxing will, however, remain in the 2020 Olympiad under the IOC’s direction to provide a stage for top amateur boxers and pros qualified to perform in the greatest sports show on earth.
The IOC’s decision augurs well for our boxers, who are deep in training and fighting abroad before joining Team Philippines in the 30th Southeast Asian Games the country is hosting from Nov. 30-Dec. 11.
The pugs will strive to help the local delegation win the overall standings in the multisports competition of 11 nations while competing in all 13 weight categories of the SEA Games boxing tournament.
Along with the Thais, Filipino boxers captured two gold medals each as they topped the ringfest of only six weight classes, none for women, in the 2017 Kuala Lumpur SEA Games.
It is understandable that the Philippine Sports Commission and the Philippine Olympic Committee have forged an agreement with the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee to host the best-ever SEA Games.
But sending as many qualifiers as possible to Tokyo next year should not be shelved to the back burner if we are to end the search for the Holy Grail of Philippine Sports—our first ever Olympic gold medal.
Football chief Mariano Araneta, the new chief of mission (CDM) to the Tokyo Games slated July 28 to Aug. 9 next year, still has to figure out how many of our athletes have a shot at qualifying.
However, the guy Araneta replaced as CDM told me a few months back that based on the current records of local Olympic hopefuls, plus the gender equality rules in lieu of wild card invitations from the IOC, “18 athletes could book tickets to Tokyo next year.”
This number does not count a number of boxers who are left standing to banner the quest for more Olympic slots and eventually qualifying in Tokyo.
(As I write this, pole vaulter EJ Obiena became our first entrant for Tokyo with an Olympic qualifying mark while competing in Italy.)
Historically and traditionally, the boxers remain the strongest hopes for our first Olympic gold since 1924.
Five of our 10 Olympic medals since 1924 have been been won by boxers including two silvers—by Anthony Villanueva in 1964 and Mansueto Velasco in 1996.
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