The Philippines has made a “special request” to the International Olympic Committee to allow Manny Pacquiao to box at the Paris Games despite the former world champion being over the age limit, a Philippine official said Tuesday.
Pacquiao, 44, retired from professional boxing in 2021 to try his hand at the presidency of the Philippines.
The age limit for Olympic boxers is 40 years old.
Philippine Olympic Committee President Abraham Tolentino said AFP he sent a letter to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) two weeks ago requesting a “universality place” for Pacquiao.
Filipino boxing legend and senator Manny Pacquiao trains at his gym in General Santos on the southern island of Mindanao on June 22, 2021. Photo AFP
Universality places are awarded to athletes from countries who have difficulty securing a place in the Olympics through normal qualification routes.
The IOC indicated that there were nine universality places for boxing in Paris, including five for women and four for men. Places will be confirmed on June 7.
“He is in better physical shape than other athletes,” Tolentino said, describing Pacquiao as a “boxing icon” who could help the sport’s image.
Tolentino said the “special request” for Pacquiao would not affect other Filipino boxers’ chances of qualifying for Paris.
Fighting in Paris would be an opportunity to realize his life’s dream of winning an Olympic gold medal, Pacquiao told AFP on Tuesday.
Pacquiao, winner of several world titles, has never participated in the Olympics.
He insisted he was “not too old” to face younger boxers, saying he felt like he was “30 or 28”.
“That’s Manny Pacquiao’s secret,” he said.
Pacquiao said he plans to fight in two exhibition matches in Japan and Thailand in the coming months.