Stop the joke; Pacquiao not qualified for Olympic Games

By Alex P. Vidal

“My life needs editing.”—Mort Sahl

WE’RE sure Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Abraham Tolentino didn’t mean to insult the intelligence of Filipinos when he recently disclosed retired professional boxer Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao was planning to return to boxing and “represent” the Philippines in the 2024 Paris Olympic Games in France.

We can forgive Tolentino if he was joking, but the news didn’t say what he revealed in public was a joke.

As the highest official of the POC, he should be the first to know that Pacquiao is NOT QUALIFIED to participate in the World Olympic Games, specifically the Paris Games in July and August next year.

Tolentino should have immediately stated in the news that “…but Pacquiao is not qualified anymore, and I told him to drop the crazy idea.”

Tolentino’s failure to right away inform Pacquiao (granting the former boxer was really serious when he allegedly told Tolentino of his “desire” to fight in the Paris Games) and the public that Pacquiao is not qualified is an indication the POC chief wanted to ride on the publicity generated by the “earthshaking” sports news.


Olympic Games athletes—including boxers—cannot be 41 years old or older during the year 2024; and must be a minimum of 18 years old by date of birth by the first day of competition, or on July 26, 2024, start of the Paris Games, which will end on August 11, 2024.

Pacquiao, who was born on December 17, 1978, will be 45 years old during the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.

Even if Pacquiao is 18 or 25 years old when he told Tolentino he wanted to be in the RP Team, the slot in the 71kg (welterweight) category can’t be handed to him on a silver platter.

This is not professional boxing where astute promoters and other demigods in Las Vegas can make anyone instant challenger to battle for the world championship like what they did to Pacquiao and many other marquee names in prizefighting.

Frankly, Pacquiao became eight-time world boxing champion not because he was superman or bionic man.

It’s because he was instant challenger to reigning world champions in eight different divisions. Thank you, Bob Arum.

If professional boxing has godfathers, amateur boxing—the Olympic Games—has strict rules and qualifications.

Pacquiao can’t shortcut his way in the Olympic Games.


Even if the rules will allow a 45-year-old beakbuster to participate in the Olympic Games, younger and faster amateur boxers nowadays—even in the Philippines—will eat him alive.

In order to qualify for the Paris Games, the boxers must be able to roll past other competitors in the three qualification tournaments: continental, first, and second world qualifying stages.

They must pass through the proverbial eye of the needle. No palakasan system. No Bob Arum or Don King.

The continental tournament for Asian Olympic boxing aspirants is the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China on September 23 to October 8, 2023.

With lack of preparations (granting he is 18 or 25 years old today), I don’t think Pacquiao is a shoo-in to take part in the continental tournament.

The first world qualification tournament is slated in Busto, Arzizio, Italy on February 29-March 12, 2024. The second and last world qualification tournament in scheduled in Bangkok, Thailand on May 23-June 3, 2024.

Again, even if Pacquiao is only 18 or 25 years old, he can’t be ready for the aforementioned world qualification tournaments since he has been inactive in the ring except in the exhibition bout against Korean patsy DK Yoo in December 2022.

Pacquiao is also set to tangle with Thai boxing legend Buakaw Banchamek in another exhibition match on July 21, 2024.

Before wounding up third in the May 2022 Philippine presidential election, Pacquiao lost his farewell fight against Yordenis Ugas in August 2021.

Thus, all these funny talks about boxing’s most celebrated grandpa donning the Philippine flag in boxing in the 2024 Paris Olympic Games are nothing but jokes. It’s time to pull the plug on this hilarious story.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two daily newspapers in Iloilo.—Ed)