By NICK GIONGCO
The Philippines is willing to take over the staging of the Olympic boxing qualifying tournament in case the Chinese city of Wuhan is deemed unfit to play as host owing to the medical situation there.
The Wuhan qualifiers is scheduled Feb. 3-14 and Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (Abap) said during the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum at the Amelie Hotel that Manila can be a replacement venue if the situation worsens.
A pneumonia scare is currently gripping Wuhan but the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has assured the national federations of Asia-Oceania, including the Abap, that the situation is under control and that the slugfest will proceed as scheduled based on statements from the World Health Organization which is closely monitoring the situation.
Still, Abap secretary-general Ed Picson maintains that Manila can assume the hosting if the situation in Wuhan deteriorates as he has already raised the issue with the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).
The Abap is sending about eight bets to the Wuhan qualifiers, everyone of them solid bets to earn Olympic berths, noted Picson.
“We won’t be sending somebody who we don’t believe doesn’t have a chance of qualifying,” he said.
Making the Olympic grade appears more attainable since the top six finishers in every weight class automatically gets a slot.
The other continental qualifiers will take place in Dakar, Senegal (Africa), Buenos Aires (Americas) and London (Europe).
Those who don’t make it in the continental will have their last chance when Paris holds the World Qualifying in May.
Picson said those who stood out during the 30th Southeast Asian Games are practically the same guys who will campaign in Wuhan.
The men’s team is training in Thailand until Jan. 24 while the women’s team is in Baguio City.
Meanwhile, two-time Olympic swimmer Jessie Khing Lacuna guaranteed fellow athletes that his election in the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) will serve as a link with the country’s high-ranking officials.
“This will serve as the bridge, the link. We can directly reach out in relation to their needs,” said the 26-year-old Lacuna, who retired after competing in the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
The other members of the POC Athletes Commission also include Cheska Altamonte of softball, Nikko Huelgas of triathlon and Jake Letts of rugby, a group Lacuna believes will ensure that athletes get to air their grievances to the POC.