PH boxing officials wary of Wuhan pneumonia outbreak

OLYMPIC BOXING QUALIFYING TOURNAMENT. Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) secretary-general Ed Picson says the Philippines can be a replacement for 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 during the Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum held at the Amelie Hotel in Malate, Manila on Tuesday (January 14, 2020). The Wuhan qualifying tournament is scheduled Feb. 3-14. (PNA photo by Jess M. Escaros Jr.) 

The Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (ABAP) is closely monitoring the situation in Wuhan, China following an outbreak of pneumonia just weeks ahead of the Asia and Oceania boxing qualifier for this year’s Tokyo Olympics.

Ed Picson, secretary-general of ABAP, said those from the host city and the participating countries are keeping their fingers crossed before the event on Feb. 3 to 14.

Picson told the PSA Forum at Amelie Hotel Manila on Tuesday that apprehensions remain despite a letter they received on Monday from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Boxing Task Force, saying “no travel restrictions and extra measures are needed.”

The letter also said the World Health Organization (WHO) has outlined that “China has strong public health capacities and resources to respond and manage respiratory disease outbreaks,” and 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 sports event.

Chinese authorities have ruled out any relation to the deadly Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) to the new type of coronavirus that has struck Wuhan, as well as 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 measures 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 were 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 way for Filipino boxers to qualify to this year’s Olympics because of the number of slots offered.

In the men’s 52 kg, 57 kg and 63 kg and women’s 51 kg, 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. (PR)