Pacquiao stresses dream to represent PH in 2024 Paris Olympics as opportunity to qualify looms

Manny "PacMan" Pacquiao (PHOTO: Avito C. Dalan/Philippine News Agency)
Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao, the former eight-division world champion, reiterated during the launch of his Maharlika Pilipinas Volleyball Association (MPVA) last September 15 that he remained committed to representing the Philippines in the Olympics.
Pacquiao shared that it was a dream for him since his teenage years to don the national colors and win a gold medal for the country in the quadrennial meet to be held in Paris, France in 2024.
"My heart and desire is to claim a gold medal in the Olympics," Pacquiao said.
The erstwhile pound-for-pound king told reporters that he went to Manila for a chance to join the Philippine team. However, he was rejected, which forced him to turn professional and the rest is history.
"From the beginning sabi ko, nagpunta ako sa Manila kasi gusto kong masala sa Philippine team. Kaso di ako nakuha, na-reject ako. Dahil di raw ako marunong. So napilitan ako mag-pro at the age of 16. 'Yun ang dahilan nun," Pacquiao remembered.
Past is past as the pride of General Santos City in the Soccsksargen region braced for what future lies ahead.
"Waiting for that and I'm excited about it," the boxer, whose moniker came from the first three letters of his first name and surname, said.

Pacman's eagerness to take the Olympic stage

Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) President Abraham "Bambol" Tolentino said that Pacquiao's camp inquired about the qualification process.
Tolentino explained that the 44-year-old supposedly had three options but trimmed down to two. This is because Pacquiao is over 40 years old already, which made him ineligible to compete in the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China – an Olympic qualifying stage. A total of 14 Asian boxers, two each in seven weight divisions, will book their spots in this competition. Unfortunately, Pacquiao is out of running for these Asiad slots.
One of the rules enacted by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for next year's games is that men and women boxers to compete in the continental qualifiers must be 19-40 years of age. This came upon IOC's takeover as the primary implementer of the Paris 2024 Boxing Unit's event regulations, with most of it adopted from the Tokyo 2020, following the suspension of the International Boxing Association (IBA) last June 2023.
Despite this early blow in his Olympic bid, the dream continues for Pacquiao as two viable routes remain.

What are the two remaining options for Pacquiao to reach the 2024 Paris Olympics?

Down to the last options, here are the two ways for Pacquiao to qualify for next year's Paris Games:

Option 1: Through the World Qualification Tournament

According to Tolentino, Pacquiao can see himself fighting in Paris by finishing among the highest-ranked boxers via the World Qualification Tournament (WQT). Pacman can compete in either WQTs set in the first and second quarters of 2024 or both, depending on the results.
The first thing the GenSan native must do is to choose the weight class he will join, as Pacquiao currently weighs 66 kilograms – excluded from the Paris boxing program. Considering his weight, he can choose between 63.50 kgs (welterweight) or 71 kgs (middleweight).
If Pacquiao chooses 63.5 kgs, he must be one of the final four in the first WQT or finish within the top four or five of the second WQT. The same number of Olympic berths applies to 71 kgs in the two WQTs.

Option 2: Through the Universality Rule

In case Pacquiao fails to qualify through the WQTs as stated above, he can hope that the IOC will grant him a Paris Olympics ticket under the Universality rule.
Only nine universality places, five for women and four for men, are up for grabs. National Olympic Committees (NOCs) are invited to submit requests from October 1, 2023 to January 15, 2024. Qualified boxers for the universality places will be confirmed on June 7, 2024.

Are current and former professional boxers allowed in the Olympics?

YES, current and former professional boxers are allowed to fight in the 2024 Paris Olympics. Pro pugs were prohibited from joining the Olympiad before IBA changed it in Rio 2016. Pacquiao could have competed in Brazil but backed out after getting elected senator in May that year.
Out of the 186 competitors in the Tokyo Olympics, 43 are professionals. Men's middleweight and Filipino bronze medalist Eumir Felix Marcial and his quarterfinal opponent Armenia's Arman Darchinyan are among them.

How did the Filipino boxers fare in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics?

The Philippines had four boxers who qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, with three of them winning a medal.
Carlo Paalam (men's flyweight) and Nesthy Petecio (women's featherweight) bagged a silver, while Marcial settled for a bronze in the men's 75 kg class. The Filipino pugilist landed 11th in the final medal table and became the third-best Asian country in the Olympiad boxing.
Host Japan was the top-performing Asian nation in boxing for both men's and women's divisions, with one gold and two bronzes, followed by Uzbekistan with one gold. Meanwhile, China is a bronze shy of the Philippines to place fourth with two silvers.

How can Pacquiao help the boxing and Philippine team's campaign in the 2024 Paris Olympics?

Pacquiao is a rare specimen of unmatched speed and power punching. Standing at 5-foot-5, the southpaw conquered eight divisions in his prime to be considered among the greatest boxers of all time, alongside fellow Filipino pug Flash Elorde.
Pacman's presence, if he qualifies for the 2024 Paris Olympics, is a boost not only for the boxing contingent but for the Philippine team's morale and medal chances. A caliber of Pacquiao, who boasts a vast experience in the professional ranks, can uplift the spirit of everyone around him and most importantly, win gold at his age.
Only the results of next year's Olympiad are to testify.

Last Modified: 2024-Jul-16 07.46 +0800