THE Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines is closely monitoring the situation in Wuhan, China following an outbreak of pneumonia just weeks before hosting the Asia and Oceania boxing qualifier for this year’s Tokyo Olympics.
Ed Picson, secretary-general of ABAP, said everybody including the host city and the participating countries can only hope that the Wuhan outbreak is placed under control before the event is held Feb. 3 to 14.
Picson told the PSA Forum at Amelie Hotel Manila that apprehensions remain despite a letter they received on Tuesday from the International Olympic Committee Boxing Task Force saying, “no travel restrictions and extra measures are needed.”
The IOC letter also said that the World Health Organization has outlined that “China has strong public health capacities and resources to respond and manage respiratory disease outbreaks,” and that the WHO does not recommend measures for travelers to Wuhan, which is 1,152 kms north of Beijing.
Picson said a couple of countries have expressed willingness to take over the hosting of the Olympic qualifier, including Thailand and even the Philippines, which recently hosted the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
“With our recent hosting of the SEA Games, we have the mechanics in place,” said Picson. However, he doubted if China would give up the hosting since it has other venues nationwide that can stage the multi-nation event.
Chinese authorities have ruled out any relation to the deadly SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and MERS and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) to the new type of coronavirus that has struck Wuhan.
Also ruled out is human-to-human contact as a way of transmitting the disease.
If the event pushes through in Wuhan, Picson said the Philippine delegation would still take the necessary precaution to ensure the safety of its boxers and officials.
Picson said ABAP would field as many as eight boxers to the Asia and Oceania qualifiers, including five male and three female boxers, most of them gold medal winners in the recent SEA Games.
They include entries in the men’s 52 kg, 57 kg, 63 kg, 69 kg and 75 kg divisions, and the 51 kg, 57 kg and 69 kg in the women’s side.
Picson said the Asia and Oceania qualifiers is the best opportunity for Filipino boxers to qualify to this year’s Olympics because of the number of slots being offered.
In the men’s 52 kg, 57 kg and 63 kg and women’s 51 kg categories alone, six slots are at stake, including the four semifinalists and the two boxers that will lose to the eventual gold and silver medalists. The rest of the divisions will offer five slots to Tokyo.
For those who fail in Wuhan and the three other continental qualifiers (the Africas, Americas and Europe), the World qualifying tournament in Paris in May will be their last chance.