WILL BOXING icon Manny Pacquiao get his wish to fight for the Philippines in the Paris Olympics?

That all depends now on how the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will act on the formal appeal for a universality slot for the “Pacman” that’s already been filed by the Philippine Olympic Committee (POC).

And POC president Abraham Tolentino cautioned it won’t be easy sailing considering there are 120 countries fighting for the nine universality places — four male and four female — in the Paris Games, not to mention an age ceiling in Olympic boxing.

Mga April next year malalaman ang sagot (IOC). Mahabang proseso iyun, maraming dadaanan hanggang sa executive board,” said Mr. Tolentino, who emailed the request for Mr. Pacquiao just before he left Hangzhou for Manila.

Pacquiao’s ripe age of 44 could also be an issue with 40 as the set maximum for the Olympiad and other international competitions.

“Age limit has always been 19 to 40,” said Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines secretary general Marcus Manalo.

“There should be an exemption for this. Siguro puwedeng i-challenge iyung reasoning behind 40 because he could be more conditioned than boxers younger than his age. But it’s up to the IOC.”

Then again, Mr. Manalo expressed concern that if the IOC does amend the age limit rules, will it implement it in 2024 right away or wait for the next Olympic cycle as traditionally done?

“It’s all up in the air, but we’re hopeful on the appeal for universality place because if it gets approved, obviously, that would be extremely beneficial for us,” he said.

“Who doesn’t want Manny Pacquiao in their Olympic lineup? Obviously, he’s an absolute legend. But there are rules in place that we have to consider also. We’re hopeful, but again, we have to manage expectations.” — Olmin Leyba