ABAP waiting for Pacquiao's nod to try for an Olympics spot
ABS-CBN Sports on May 25, 2016 04:46 PM
Manny Pacquiao is yet to give his decision to participate in the last Rio Olympics qualifier. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila, File)
As the deadline for the submission of entries to the last Olympic qualifier in Baku, Azerbaijan looms, the Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines (ABAP) has yet to hear from eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao.
The ring icon and incoming senator expressed interest to participate in the Rio Olympics but did not commit as he set his sights on winning a senate seat in the May polls.
But whatever decision Pacquiao will arrive at, ABAP will respect it.
“Sen. Pacquiao has already given so much pride to the Filipino and our country,” said ABAP president Ricky Vargas. “We, as a people, are grateful. Just his presence watching our boxers fight in the Rio Olympics is already a great honor and an inspiration to our boxers.”
ABAP’s esteem for Pacquiao, the ABAP head said, is transcendent.
“Not fighting in the Olympics will not tarnish in any way our respect and admiration for Sen. Pacquiao, although he is so much welcome, of course, if he decides to compete,” said Vargas. “We await his decision.”
Vargas issued the clarification three days before ABAP forwards its officials lineup to the Baku organizers, stressing that either inside the ring or out Pacquiao will be a prized guest in Rio de Janeiro this August.
“He is most welcome if he does decide,” said Vargas. “If not, we invite him to watch our boxers fight in Rio to inspire and cheer them on.”
All these talks of the world champion joining the Philippine team in Rio as a junior welterweight started after AIBA president Dr. Ching-Kuo Wu invited Pacquiao to gun for the country’s first Olympic gold medal during a visit in Doha for the World Championship last October.
The proposal was shelved for more than six months until it was dusted off and revived after Pacquiao announced his retirement from pro boxing following the Timothy Bradley fight, became a senator of the republic and kept the door slightly open for a possible Olympic swan song.
ABAP executive director Ed Picson said that although a wildcard pass to Rio isn’t totally discounted, it is most likely Pacquiao, if he decides to compete, will have to go through the Azerbaijan Olympic qualifying tournament.
“But it’s all up to Manny,” said Picson. “He has until Friday and then we’ll proceed from there.”