The Philippines has made a “special request” to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to allow Manny Pacquiao to participate in the Olympic Games in Paris, even if the world champion exceeds the age limit for participation.
The 44-year-old Pacquiao retired from professional boxing in 2021 after a failed attempt to be elected as president of the Philippines. The age limit for boxers at the Olympics is 40.
Abraham Tolentino, president of the Philippine Olympic Committee, says he sent a letter to the IOC two weeks ago asking for a universality spot for Pacquiao.
These places are given to athletes who struggle to get a place at the Games through normal qualification channels.
The IOC says there are nine universality venues for boxing in Paris: five of these are for women and four for men. The places will be announced on June 7.
“He is physically fit, better than other athletes,” says Tolentino, who also describes Pacquiao as an “icon of boxing” who can help improve the image of the sport.
Tolentino also says that the “special request” for Pacquiao will not jeopardize the chances of the other boxers who want to qualify for participation in Paris.
A fight in Paris will be Pacquiao’s chance to realize a lifelong dream of hanging an Olympic gold medal around his neck, he said on Tuesday. Although he is the winner of several world titles, he has never participated in an Olympic Games.
Pacquiao also maintains that he is “not too old” to fight younger boxers and says he feels 30 or 28 years old.
“This is the secret of Manny Pacquiao,” he insists.
Pacquiao also says he plans to compete in two exhibition fights in Japan and Thailand in the next few months.