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Philippines seeks to send Pacquiao to Paris Olympics

The Philippines has made a “special request” to the International Olympic Committee to let Manny Pacquiao box at the Paris Games despite the former world champion exceeding the age limit, a Filipino official said Tuesday.

Pacquiao, 44, retired from professional boxing in 2021 to make a failed tilt at the Philippines presidency.

The age limit for Olympic boxers is 40.

Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham Tolentino told AFP he sent a letter to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) two weeks ago seeking a “universality place” for Pacquiao.

Universality places are given to athletes from countries that struggle to secure slots in the Olympics through normal qualification channels.

The IOC said there were nine universality places for boxing in Paris, with five for women and four for men. The spots will be confirmed on June 7.

“He’s physically fit, better than other athletes,” Tolentino said, describing Pacquiao as an “icon of boxing” who could help the image of the sport.

Tolentino said the “special request” for Pacquiao would not affect the chances of other Filipino boxers qualifying for Paris.

Fighting in Paris would be a chance to realise his life-long dream of winning an Olympic gold medal, Pacquiao told AFP on Tuesday.

Pacquiao, the winner of multiple world titles, has never competed at the Olympics.  

He insisted he was “not too old” to take on younger boxers, saying he felt like he was “30 years old or 28 years old”.

“It’s the secret of Manny Pacquiao,” he said.

Pacquiao said he planned to fight in two exhibition matches in Japan and Thailand in the coming months.

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