Pacquiao nixes Rio Olympics ticket

Manny Pacquiao yesterday declined an invitation by the International Boxing Association (Aiba) to compete in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics as the lead Philippine representative.

Pacquiao was only recently elected as a Philippine senator.

In a text message from Association of Boxing Alliances of the Philippines (Abap) executive director Ed Picson, Pacquiao’s media officer, Aquilles Zonio, said the eight-time world champion will prioritize his new role as a senator than shoot for the country’s first Olympic gold medal in the Summer Games set from August 5 to 21.

Pacquiao had initially sat down with Aiba president Dr. Wu Ching-kuo during the Aiba World Boxing Championship in Doha last year to explore the possibility of crossing over to the amateur ranks in a bid to give the country its first Olympic gold.

The Aiba even a dangled a free Olympic ticket to Pacquiao.

He was given until yesterday to accept the challenge. If he would reconsider after the deadline, he has to go through the final qualifying tournament on June 16 to 25 in Baku, Azerbaijan.

But Picson said the chance of seeing Pacquiao in the Olympics is now nil.

“Just got words from Aquilles Zonio that MP (Pacquiao) decided to prioritize his legislative duties,” said Picson in a text message to reporters late Thursday.

He added that they hope Pacquiao will come over to Brazil to cheer on the boxers.

“Abap respects Sen. Manny’s decision and wishes him well in his duties in the senate. He will be most welcome to come to Rio to cheer our athletes as what (Abap) president Ricky Vargas said.

So far, the country has a pair of boxer qualifiers in the Olympics.

Lightweight Charly Suarez and light flyweight Rogen Ladon are safely in after breezing through in the Asia-Oceania Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Quin’An, China two months ago.

Picson said they are reserving a slot in the light welterweight category should Pacquiao decide to compete for the country.

Pacquiao served as the country’s flag bearer in the 2008 Olympic in Beijing.

Source: Tribune