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Virus halts Wuhan slugfest




FELIX Eumir Marcial (right) has to wait before clinching a spot in the Tokyo Olympics. 

The Boxing Task Force of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) formally scrapped the Asia-Oceania Tokyo 2020 Boxing Qualifying Event following the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus in the host province of Wuhan in China.

No less than IOC Boxing Task Force chief Morinari Watanabe informed IOC representative to the county Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski of their decision, saying that they are putting premium on the safety of the delegates over serious competition.

“The IOC Boxing Task Force noted today’s decision of the Local Organizing Committee to cancel the Asia-Oceania Tokyo 2020 Boxing Qualifying Event which was due to take place in Wuhan from 3-14 February 2020 amid growing concerns in relation to the corona-virus outbreak reported in the city,” the IOC said in a statement.

“The Task Force continues to work closely with the Chinese Olympic Committee and all partners to explore alternatives and will immediately inform national Olympic committees, national federations and officials on this development.”

Filipino boxers were supposed to leave on 31 January.

But with the IOC decision, Association of Boxing Alliances of the Philippines (ABAP) secretary general Ed Picson said they would just stay in the country and train for the next Olympic qualifier.

“Actually, we already knew about this possibility as early as Wednesday, but we wanted to confirm it first with the IOC before releasing it,” said Picson, who used to be the communications director of the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC).

“What went around on Wednesday was the statem.ent from the local organizing committee in Wuhan. This new statement came from the IOC Boxing Task Force itself so this is already confirmed.”

The outbreak of the deadly virus started in a seafood market in Wuhan and had already spread all over the province, prompting Chinese health authorities to issue a lockdown order.

So far, it already claimed the lives of 17 people aside from hundreds of cases of confirmed infections all over China.

Abap was set to send the country’s best boxers in the Olympic qualifiers, including world champion Nesthy Petecio and Asian champion Felix Eumir Marcial.

Together with the POC, the local boxing body offered to host the prestigious tournament, something that would give Filipino pugs a massive homecourt advantage.

“We support ABAP’s suggestion to transfer the tournament to the Philippines,” said POC president Abraham Tolentino. “The POC will endeavor to assists in whatever way it can.”

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