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ABAP team ready to go

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) - March 5, 2021 - 12:00am

After a tedious process of finalizing travel arrangements, an ABAP team of 10 fighters is set to leave for training camp in Thailand this Wednesday and will stay about 1 1/2 months before possibly relocating to another country where a pre-Olympic tournament may be held. The contingent will not initially include Olympic middleweight qualifier Eumir Marcial, who’s in L. A., and U.K.-based lightheavyweight John Marvin. Olympic women’s flyweight qualifier Irish Magno, Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam are in the delegation.

Because of the pandemic, visas are now required for travelers to enter Thailand even if they’re from Southeast Asia. It took about two months to obtain clearances from the Ministries of Health and Interior in Thailand then another two to three weeks for the Thai Embassy in Manila to issue visas. Marcial’s clearance documents were forwarded to the Thai consulate in L. A. but it’s not sure if he’ll join the camp in Thailand.

At the moment, only Marcial and Magno from the ABAP team are qualified for Tokyo but Petecio and Paalam should make it as the highest-ranked Asians available to book tickets since the world qualifiers were cancelled by the IOC Boxing Task Force. ABAP secretary-general Ed Picson said he’s not counting chickens before they’re hatched. The IOC will base who are the qualifiers from the updated standings and make an announcement any day from March 10 to 16. Since there are no competitions from now until then, the rankings shouldn’t change, meaning Petecio and Paalam will get their slots for Tokyo. Picson, however, said there are no guarantees until the tickets are formally awarded.

AIBA, meanwhile, is opposing the cancellation of the world qualifiers. AIBA president Umar Kremlev of Russia said the ranking system “does not take into account youth competitions as young boxers born in 2001-02 will be deprived of the chance to compete at the Games and fulfill their dream … a qualification tournament would be a more objective way to qualify for the Olympics.” But IOC may not be inclined to listen to AIBA particularly as IOC executive board member Nenad Lalovic of Serbia was chairman of the Olympic inquiry panel that decided to strip AIBA of Olympic recognition. Picson said it’s possible that once the ABAP team leaves for Thailand, the Tokyo-bound boxers may not return home until after the Olympics. “It will depend on the training we’re able to arrange,” he said. Marcial has been invited to join the Thai camp but he’s immersed in workouts in L. A. with Freddie Roach supervising his training. At some point, he’ll hook up with the ABAP team in Thailand or elsewhere.

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