The Philippines has officially applied for an exemption to allow Manny Pacquiao to compete at the 2024 Olympic Games. The multiple times boxing world champion turned presidential candidate is well over the age limit but clearly has the full support of his country’s officials as he looks to launch a comeback as an amateur.
Pacquiao is 44, which makes him four years too old for the Olympics. But he is also a multi millionaire and an icon in the Philippines who clearly has the support of the administrators in his homeland charged with selecting the team of boxers to compete in Paris next year.
The AFP confirmed that a request for an exemption had officially been made with Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham Tolentino confirmed he had applied for Pacquiao to be handed a ‘universality place’,
“He’s physically fit, better than other athletes (and) an icon of boxing.”
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Pain of rejection
As a young boxer Pacquiao was overlooked for the Olympics team. It is something he still sounds bitter about and told reporters at a recent basketball game,
“From the beginning, I went to Manila to be part of the Philippine team, but I wasn’t picked, I was rejected because they said I was not good.”
Pacquiao is too old to compete in the qualification tournaments and has left it too late to enter anyway so cannot secure his spot on the team through a traditional route. But there are up to five ‘Universality Places’ available and the Philippines Olympic Committee has nominated the 44 year old for one of them,
Ironically Pacquiao is now potentially looking to crush the dreams of an up and coming amateur boxer by taking his or her spot on the Olympics team. The country can nominate five fighters for a ‘universality place’ which would circumvent the need to qualify but can only enter one fighter per division
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The Philippines sent just eight boxers to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. But this event was held during the height of the pandemic and many fighters were overweight and out of shape after months of inactivity.
There are 13 weight categories at next year’s Olympics, eight for men and five for women. Pacquiao would be competing at either 63.5kgs or 71kgs and would be the sole representative of the Philippines in his division.
Neither division is a natural fit for Pacquiao. It is doubtful he could get down to 63.5kgs while he would be undersized at 71kgs, although the 44 year old hasn’t let this stop him from winning world titles at around that weight.
It remains to be seen whether the International Olympics Committee will allow Pacquiao to live his Olympics dream. But he certainly has the full weight of the boxing officials in the Philippines behind him.