Sports

Team PH will take huge hit if weightlifting, boxing don’t get reinstated to LA 2028 Olympics


Hidilyn Diaz in her Tokyo golden lift.—INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

Boxing chief Ed Picson and weightlifting head Monico Puentevella know their respective sports are in murky waters after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) initially excluded their respective sports from the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.

With the IOC decision to blackball boxing and weightlifting out of their hands, Puentevella and Picson could only hope that the source of the country’s medals in the Tokyo Olympics won’t stay evicted for good.

“We have seven years to appeal this initial decision for now. I’m optimistic that we can still save this situation for 2028. The IOC is giving us a chance to cleanse our ranks,’’ said Puentevella. “Pity the athletes and our beloved country, whose only chance [for medals] is in these two events.’’

Weightlifting gifted the country its first-ever gold medal in the Games through Hidilyn Diaz five months ago in Tokyo. Though she could be retired by 2028, Puentevella’s agency has done its job by grooming those who could come after her, and it would be a pity, indeed, if they don’t get to suit up.

“The Aiba (International Boxing Association) has until 2023 to comply with IOC conditions. If they do, then there’s a chance boxing will be reinstated. Hopefully that happens,’’ said Picson, the newly installed Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines president.

No Aiba control

The IOC downgraded boxing in Tokyo when it removed the organization of boxing competitions in the Olympics from the hands of the Aiba.

With fair judging, Team Philippines captured a pair of silver medals courtesy of Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam, and a bronze from Eumir Marcial, giving the national boxing squad a taste of Olympic glory in decades since Mansueto “Onyok’’ Velasco grabbed a silver in the 1996 Atlanta Summer Games.

The IOC recently announced that boxing, weightlifting and modern pentathlon are no longer in the lineup for the 2028 Games, giving their spots to skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing in the LA 2028 program.

“Boxing has been there for a long time and is one of the foundations of the Olympic movement. It’s definitely one of those high-profile sports in the Olympics and a lot of people will feel disappointed,’’ said Picson.

“Our international federation (Aiba) should bring on the reforms that the IOC has been asking for. I hope our IF can make the necessary adjustments to appease the IOC. There’s no way to go around it, it’s the call of the IOC,’’ added Picson.

Reports have it that the Aiba has been charged with the unabated manipulation of bouts at several major boxing events following the alleged match-rigging system in operation in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, with the Aiba allowing the corruption to flourish, an independent investigation has found.

Even in Paris?

Weightlifting is likewise being hounded by issues on governance, ethics, finance and doping, putting the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) under the microscope of the IOC.

One of the 12 sports on the program of the 1896 Games, weightlifting also faces the specter of being expelled from the calendar of Paris 2024. According to a report, the IWF still has to clear some issues with the IOC if the sport intends to see action in Paris.

“We better shape up or ship out. I’m proposing that all member countries who violated the anti-doping rules in the recent past should be banned again,’’ said Puentevella.

“A few rats shouldn’t burn the whole house down. This is unfair. The Olympiad opened with weightlifting, it won’t be the same again without it. The Philippines will be hard hit because we won medals only in these two sports [with boxing],’’ added Puentevella.

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